de Blasio Press Q&A: The Broad Channel Edition



Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference today in Broad Channel, the small island enclave in Jamaica Bay, celebrating the markedly improved performance of the City’s Build It Back program and announcing expanded goals for the program. The mayor briefly viewed a home being reconstructed by Build It Back and then moved around the corner for his press conference. Continue reading

de Blasio Returns to Far Rockaway



Mayor Bill de Blasio returned to Far Rockaway Wednesday, unveiling two jobs initiatives while visiting a Sandy recovery/jobs fair.  He announced a “Build it Back Local Hiring Initiative,” requiring Build it Back contractors to post job opportunities and give residents of Sandy-impacted neighborhoods first priority to register for job opportunities, and a “Rockaways (sic) Economic Advancement Initiative” providing expanded services to job seekers.  The jobs fair was the product of a July promise by Amy Peterson, Director of the Office of Housing Recovery.

de Blasio has spoken in very broad terms of the opportunity that the Sandy recovery effort provides “to not just right the wrongs of Sandy, but start righting some greater wrongs“, and he continued that theme Wednesday.  Pledging to put forth a “holistic development plan” and to “undo a lot of what done wrong in the past” on Rockaway’s economic development, de Blasio said that he will make “some more announcements in the coming months … that are specific and then thereafter you’re going to see a much bigger plan.”

Topics during the Q&A portion of his press conference included the looming discontinuance of the Rockaway ferry, a broad consideration of his earlier statement about “righting greater wrongs,” what happened to government funding for a ferry obtained by Anthony Weiner and Joe Addabbo, whether there is any City effort to “track down scammers” in the Build it Back program, how satisfied de Blasio is with the pace of Build it Back, whether an updated evacuation plan is contemplated in conjunction with increasing the housing supply in Rockaway and a government memo reported by The Wave which stated that more money was available from FEMA than publicly acknowledged and that such additional funding could be a political liability.  Here is the full Q&A:

Columbus Day Parade



Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio were among the many elected officials and candidates marching in today’s Columbus Day Parade.  Marching separately, they each held a press gaggle, Cuomo just before marching and de Blasio as he concluded.

Cuomo:

Accompanied by his daughter Michaela, Cuomo made an opening statement lauding Columbus Day, the parade and Italian-American contributions to New York.  Question topics included his contemplated trip to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, his favorite italian food, his position on the three propositions appearing on the November ballot, whether he’s optimistic about his reelection, Italian-American contributions to New York and Mitt Romney’s recent fundraising email in support of Rob Astorino.

de Blasio:

Joined by OEM Commissioner Joe Esposito de Blasio answered questions on the City’s readiness to deal with ebola, whether his reaction to Rachel Noerdlinger’s issues represents a “double standard” and changes in the levying of fines by the Department of Consumer Affairs.

Three Cities, Three Gaggles, Three Speeches (Updated)



Governor Andrew Cuomo revved up his reelection campaign Saturday with a three city bus tour.  Visits to Albany, Syracuse and Rochester included a rally and speech in each, followed by a gaggle, the somewhat informal press Q&As in which the press and the subject stand in a tight circle for their back and forth.

Today’s bus tour was billed as a “Women’s Equality Party” tour, with Governor Cuomo focused on his “Women’s Equality Act.”  His reelection campaign has mostly been conducted through the Women’s Equality Party ballot line he’s created for November, with his focus on codifying, and thereby protecting, the right to an abortion.

To start our report, here is video of each of his three gaggles and speeches.  Questions were primarily about the Women’s Equality Party and Women’s Equality Agenda and Cuomo’s comments on addressing sexual harassment throughout society.  Among the other topics were Rob Astorino’s characterization of recent Cuomo comments as “race baiting”, the Vito Lopez matter and it’s handling by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, an Onondaga Lake construction project and the reports of travelers at Newark Airport who may have the Ebola virus (all in the Syracuse gaggle).

Albany:

Syracuse:

Rochester:

Quinn Presses Pay Equity (Updated)



Christine Quinn pressed the issue of pay equity today in her new role as the face of the “Women’s Equality Party”.  Speaking at a press conference at Teamsters Local 237, she continued her recent public efforts at promoting the “Women’s Equality Agenda,” with a particular focus today on the pay equity component of that agenda and proposed law.

Update – Buffalo Jills:

Here is the full question and answer on the Buffalo Jills lawsuit:

Chris, Rob & The Early Arrival



Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino arrived at a campaign event 30 minutes ahead of it’s scheduled start Tuesday, to Christine Quinn’s consternation.

Quinn, former speaker of the New York City Council, is the chief public face of the “Women’s Equality Party”, a ballot line recently created by Governor Andrew Cuomo, and she hoped to confront Astorino with a pledge that Team Cuomo is pushing.  The pledge essentially provides that signatories will support legislation next year on a “Women’s Equality Plan”, covering a variety of issues ranging from pay equity to human trafficking laws to “allow[ing] for the recovery of attorneys’ fees in employment and credit and lending cases.”  Most contentious, however, is a proposed codification of abortion rights.  Should Roe v. Wade ever be overturned, and states permitted to determine state by state whether abortion is legal, that would become a significant legal matter.

Astorino says he supports nine of the ten points in the “Women’s Equality Plan”, objecting to the codification of abortion rights.  Team Cuomo has been pushing the Women’s Equality Party and Women’s Equality Plan in an effort to highlight Astorino’s opposition to allowing abortions, and Quinn sought a face to face moment Tuesday.  Here’s what happened.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The United Nations Edition (Updated x 2)



Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke with the press this morning, following his speech at the United Nations Climate Change Summit.

State Senate:

In May Governor Andrew Cuomo pledged to support Democratic control of the state senate.  Cuomo made that pledge as part of his receiving the Working Families Party ballot line, with Mayor de Blasio’s support vital to his success.

Cuomo has generally done minimal campaigning for others, and is following that pattern in 2014.  Combined with a belief by many that he actually prefers Republican control, or the current Republican/IDC control, of the state senate, many Democrats and WFP members are skeptical that Governor Cuomo will meaningfully satisfy his pledge.  I asked Mayor de Blasio whether he believes that Governor Cuomo has done enough so far to fulfill his pledge and what Mayor de Blasio expects the governor to do from now until election day regarding his pledge.

Update – Full Q&A:

On topic question topics included whether other municipal leaders around the world are following New York City’s efforts on climate change, whether/how the City may mandate private sector actions, the grassroots nature of the movement urging action on climate change and the protests that closed Broadway and other streets in lower Manhattan yesterday.  Off topic questions included his speech tomorrow to Britain’s Labour Party, Chirlane McCray’s attendance at  an NYPD CompStat meeting, whether ISIS and the recent U.S. military strikes will cause a ramped-up security/counter-terrorism effort by the City, Governor Cuomo’s efforts at supporting a Democratic state senate, Congressional approval of military strikes ordered by President Obama, the City school system’s policy on student cell phones and continuing problems at Rikers Island.

Update #2 – Protests:

Mayor de Blasio accepted the notion of protestors blocking City streets.  He was asked about a protest on September 22nd in which approximately 100 protestors sat in the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway for several hours and left only when they were arrested and removed by the NYPD.

Fans, Food & A Few Questions (Updated)



Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio ate their way up Mulberry Street this afternoon, marching in the annual San Gennaro Festival parade.  Held in Manhattan’s Little Italy, the parade moves through a narrow street lined with with food booths offering an array of treats.  Sandwiches, rice balls, cannoli and more fueled the governor and the mayor as they moved through a packed, friendly crowd.

Press Gaggle:

Governor Cuomo spoke briefly with the press after the parade.  (Mayor de Blasio did not.)  The session lasted barely two minutes, with two non-parade questions.  Cuomo gave a “yes”, but without any commitment on when/where etc., on whether he will debate Republican Rob Astorino, and a non-answer on whether he wants Zephyr Teachout’s endorsement and what he’ll do to get it.  He spoke at greater length about the parade, both today’s march and his family’s attachment to the parade.

Update – Leave the Picture, Take the Cannoli:

Here’s a look at the governor and mayor’s culinary experience Saturday:

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Freestyle edition



Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Friday afternoon visit to a middle school after school program included being serenaded, freestyle.  The mayor, joined by his wife Chirlane McCray and several City officials, visited Gramercy Park’s M.S. 255 to promote the lesser publicized part of his universal pre-K/middle school after school program initiative and urge parents and students to enroll.

Press Q&A:

Press questions were primarily “off topic,” with on topic questions covering the enrollment statistics and remaining available seats and whether legislative changes to the common core state standards will be an improvement for students, teachers and parents.  Off topic questions included city enforcement efforts around Airbnb and Airbnb’s hiring of de Blasio’s campaign manager, why a proposed ban on carriage horses has taken far longer than initially promised by the mayor, Tim Wu’s comments on the mayor’s central role on defeating Wu and Zephyr Teachout in Tuesday’s primary, revised statistics on NYPD chokehold incidents, charter school co-locations, the mayor’s lack of a federal security clearance and resulting inability to receive classified information, school bus drivers movement toward a strike, his relationship with Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and his efforts to help elect a Democratic majority in the state senate.

de Blasio Press Conference; Round 2



Mayor Bill de Blasio held a second press conference this afternoon, focused on his universal pre-kindergarten program.  Shortly before this press conference, de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and 20 other members of the City Council held a press conference endorsing Kathy Hochul for lieutenant governor.

de Blasio spoke about the pre-K effort, which launches tomorrow, lauding it’s potential and discussing bumps in the implementation.  The bumps consist of nine sites which the City has decided to not use and 36 sites where a need for further preparation have forced a delayed start.  Most of the press questions also focused on the pre-K roll-out, although two questions covered the decision by the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee to admit an LGBT group.

Here is the full press conference:

Rockaway Ferry Supporters Rally At City Hall (Updated)



Rockaway ferry service supporters came to City Hall Thursday evening to urge Mayor de Blasio to continue operating the service past it’s scheduled October cessation.  Initiated in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy while the A train was out of service for months, the ferry is subsidized by the City at an annual cost of approximately $6 million.  The City calculates that the subsidy is at least $25 per passenger/trip.  The de Blasio administration had continued the Bloomberg administration’s short term ferry funding, but has announced that the subsidy will end in October.

The rally featured two citywide elected officials, Scott Stringer and Tish James, as well as Assembly Member Phil Goldfeder, State Senator Joe Addabbo, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Council Members Eric Ulrich and Vincent Gentile.

The Rockaway peninsula’s physical separation from the rest of the City is matched by a sense of political separation.  It’s particularly so in the neighborhoods which most use the ferry, with many residents believing that City Hall is not looking out for them.  Those western neighborhoods, such as Belle Harbor and Breezy Point, overwhelmingly voted for Joe Lhota in 2013 and have little in the way of a political relationship with Bill de Blasio.

de Blasio Departs:

Mayor de Blasio left City Hall during the rally, passing just behind the rally as he headed toward his car.  Rallygoers took note, loudly chanting and calling out to him, but his only acknowledgment or engagement with them was a small wave as he moved past.  The mayor continued talking with an aide, ignoring the chants of “no ferry, no votes.”  Unfortunately for the ferry supporters, he did okay in his last election without their votes.

Update – Elected Officials Speak:

Here are the remarks of the elected officials:

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Return to Red Hook Edition



Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the Red Hook Initiative this afternoon, holding a press conference to urge New Yorkers to prepare for future hurricanes and other disasters.  This was de Blasio’s second press conference at the Red Hook Initiative.

Disaster Response Responsibilities:

I asked the mayor whether he plans on any significant changes in the allocation of disaster response responsibilities among City agencies or on the structure of those agencies with respect to disaster response:

Press Q&A:

On topic questions included the post-Sandy status of  NYCHA repairs and whether the mayor is making any changes in the allocation of disaster response duties and responsibilities among City agencies.  Off topic questions focused mostly on the Eric Garner case, and especially the role of the Rev. Al Sharpton generally and in the mayoral round table discussion yesterday.