Category Archives: City Politics

Race for Mayor: Candidate #12

Jack Hidary, a New York City tech entrepreneur, has announced that he is running for mayor.  Hidary joins 11 other “serious” candidates, including seven Democratic candidates, three Republican candidates and one Independence Party candidate, in the race.  Hidary is now petitioning to create his own party for the November general election ballot.

We spoke with Hidary about his business experience and how it shapes his outlook, why he is running and some of the challenges facing New York City.

Spitzer’s Bronx Stroll

Yesterday evening Eliot Spitzer successfully walked around 149th Street and Third Avenue in the Bronx.  “Successfully” in that he actually was able to walk and talk with people on the street, unlike his campaign-launching media maelstrom in Union Square two weeks ago.  He received a very positive reception, with many people recognizing him, wanting a picture with him and professing past or future votes for him.

There’s no way of knowing how many of the people he spoke with are registered Democrats, and how many will show up to vote for him on September 10th, but his campaign would be rightly encouraged by the short stroll.  High recognition, positive comments, smiles all around and virtually no heckling or objections from passersby made for a successful visit.

In an unexpected turn of events, the media and public focus on Anthony Weiner and the latest revelations of his sexting seem to be indirectly helping Spitzer.  It’s given Spitzer a chance to begin a more normal campaign as the media and public onslaught returned to Weiner and his disingenuousness.  The Weiner saga has become a tale of ongoing uncontrollable compulsion, with the previous neat storyline of “I did wrong, but learned my lesson” shattered.  Spitzer and his personal troubles suddenly seem more comprehensible, less bizarre by comparison and, absent any new disclosures, in the past.  What will happen when the Weiner focus fades?  Will media and public attention turn to Spitzer’s past personal behavior with renewed energy?  Or will some sense of exhaustion with the tawdry move the comptroller’s race focus to the office and the candidates’ plans and qualifications?  Stay tuned.

Special Condensed Edition:

Here is a special condensed edition of Spitzer’s walk.  And we do mean condensed.  Watch – you’ll see.

Walter McCaffrey

Walter McCaffrey, the veteran New York City Councilman from Woodside, died this month.  We’ve posted a clip of the procession into his funeral mass at St. Sebastian’s in Woodside.

This brief clip captures much about Walter: his friends from FDNY’s Rescue 4 standing in tribute to him, a New York City flag draped over his casket, a Boy Scout troop color guard hoisting the colors, Irish bagpipers piping him into St. Sebastian’s where his close friend Monsignor Joseph Finnerty waited to celebrate his funeral mass and, most of all, the many politicians, elected and otherwise, there to mourn his passing.

His obituary, after noting that his parents are deceased, observed that:

“He is survived by the City of New York, his beloved Borough of Queens, and his loving, proud and devoted friends and colleagues.”

Weiner’s Declaration of Independence … From Albany (Updated)

In his “Declaration of Independence from Albany,”  Anthony Weiner focuses on an under-appreciated fact of government life: New York State government, Albany, determines what power and authority New York City government has and controls many government functions that are popularly perceived as city government functions.

Mayoral candidates have focused on certain aspects of Albany control, particularly around the MTA and the city school system.  Weiner goes further, however, addressing the overall system built on state control of the city and it’s legal authority.

Also, be sure to watch our coverage of Anthony Weiner’s afternoon of campaigning on the beach in Rockaway, here, and accepting the support of hot-dog eating champ Joey Chestnut, here.

Catsimatidis v. The Ocean

In this report, we look at a real estate development project of mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis.

Catsimatidis is working on building three waterfront residential towers, with some commercial space, on Surf Avenue between West 35th and West 37th Street in Coney Island.  From our review of public records, entities controlled by Catsimatidis purchased the property in 2008, for a purchase price of approximately $33.5 million.  The project has been winding it’s way through the City approval process, with an estimated start date in 2013.

Hurricane Sandy made the challenges of waterfront development acutely clear.  How will Catsimatidis’s project fare?  Watch.

Be sure to also watch our report on Arverne East, an oceanfront development in Rockaway, for a look at another post-Sandy approach to waterfront development in New York City.

Mayoral Forum: Transportation Policy (Updated)

On June 19th, the University Transportation Research Center hosted a mayoral candidate forum focused on transportation policy.  The forum, at Baruch College, featured separate panels of Democratic and Republican candidates answering questions posed by a committee of experts.

Update:  In this report, we look at Anthony Weiner’s call for mayoral control of the MTA.

(In April, we spoke about this topic with John Liu, who offered a very different view.  Watch it here.)

In our first report, John Liu answers a question on the city’s capital budgeting and whether the Bloomberg administration’s current budget is realistic.

Catsimatidis Discusses “Investigations”

John Catsimatidis held a press conference this afternoon to exchange endorsements with several Queens Republican candidates for City Council.  I asked Catsimatidis for his thoughts on why all four current Republican members of the City Council have endorsed Joe Lhota, rather than Catsimatidis.  Catsimatidis responded by discussing “a few several investigations” into “certain situations going on where there were threats made on people losing their city jobs if they didn’t do certain things certain ways.”  When asked why he was privy to such investigations, Catsimatidis replied “maybe I testified”.

Background:  Two of the four current Republican City Council members, Dan Halloran and Eric Ulrich, are from Queens.  Halloran has been charged by the U.S. Attorney with taking a bribe from a Queens Democratic State Senator in exchange for helping that Democrat get on the Republican mayoral primary ballot.  Ulrich has been in a long-running Queens County Republican feud in which Ulrich and others are bitterly opposed to the Queens County Republican Chairman, Phil Ragusa.  Ragusa supports Catsimatidis for mayor.

Queens Tech Policy Mayoral Forum (Updated x 2)

On June 17th, the Coalition for Queens, along with a number of other groups, hosted a Tech Policy Forum at the Museum of the Moving Image.

Update #2: – The “Most Important Question”

Candidates answer the “most important” questions – what phone and service provider do they use, and what is their favorite app?

Update:  Anthony Weiner and the SNAP Challenge

After the forum we spoke with Anthony Weiner about the SNAP, or Food Stamp, Challenge that he is participating in.  The challenge is to live for one week with all spending for food and meals limited to the average benefit amount for city residents enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  That’s about $31 per person.

We’ll start our report with this exciting snippet in which Anthony Weiner’s forum standing strategy is stymied.

Mayoral Forum: El Diario, Hispanic Federation & Hostos (Updated x 3)

Last night, El Diario, the Hispanic Federation and Hostos Community College hosted a mayoral forum with seven Democrats, two Republicans and one Independence Party candidate.  It was quite an evening.

Update #3:  Quinn v. de Blasio

In this excerpt, Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio engage in a pointed discussion of their respective views of their accomplishments.

Update #2:  Weiner on his House Immigration Subcommittee Work

In this excerpt, Anthony Weiner is asked what he accomplished as a member of the House Subcommittee on Immigration.  He demonstrates his substantial speaking skills, giving a lengthy description of acting as “an advocate” and pledging to be “an advocate on immigration” just “as Mayor Bloomberg does on guns.” When pressed by the moderator on what he has to show from his time on that subcommittee, Weiner says that “every member of the Democratic caucus … didn’t get much done” during that time.  He does, however, assert that he “tilled the fields” and “fought really hard.”

Update:  O, Alma Mater, glorious …

In this brief excerpt, the candidates focus on their love for a particular high school.  Really.  Well worth watching.

In our initial report the candidates discuss the city’s solid waste disposal plan.  It’s a unique exchange in several ways.  First, more than any other forum or debate segment that I can recall, the candidates engage in a long and unusually involved discussion with each other.  Second, there are some clear personal frictions that emerge.  Finally, there are a few loopy moments.  All in all, this segment displays more candidate personalities more effectively than any other moment that I’ve seen so far in the campaign.

Mayoral Forum: Families for Excellent Schools

Last night, Families for Excellent Schools held a mayoral candidate forum.  Four Democratic candidates attended: Anthony Weiner, Christine Quinn, Sal Albanese and John Liu.

Here is our initial report, covering two charter school questions asked at the forum, and including the complete answers of each candidate.  Despite being asked as “yes or no” questions, the responses are fairly lengthy and we thought it worthwhile to give you the complete answers.