New York City’s three citywide elected officials – Mayor Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate Tish James and Comptroller Scott Stringer – and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito joined a press conference today demanding federal action to address Puerto Rico’s deep fiscal and financial crisis. Puerto Rico’s government and related public authorities owe more than $70 billion to creditors, an amount which Puerto Rico’s governor recently termed “unpayable”, with looming large payments pushing the Commonwealth toward a critical moment.
The City Hall Plaza press conference, hosted by the Hispanic Federation, called for a laundry list of federal actions, including implementing “a federal investment plan”, eliminating Jones Act requirements that goods shipped between Puerto Rico and other places in America be transported on U.S. ships with U.S. crews, changing the U.S. bankruptcy code to allow Puerto Rico and its government related enterprises to file bankruptcy petitions and urging President Obama to “explore a Federal Reserve loan” and “oppose severe austerity.”
Puerto Rico’s crisis is decades in the making. With a shrinking population and a shrinking economy Puerto Rico has long borrowed to fund operating costs. As described in a recent report commissioned by the Puerto Rican government, Puerto Rico’s fiscal shortcomings have been masked and ultimately worsened by poor fiscal and accounting practices.
The press conference produced an infrequent appearance of all three citywide elected officials and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito – the “CW3+MMV”, perhaps – at an event. There appeared to be polite interaction among them, but no sign of great warmth.
For the second chapter of Clintons campaigning for Cuomo it was Bill Clinton, following in his wife’s footsteps, joining Andrew Cuomo Thursday evening for a campaign rally at SEIU 1199’s midtown headquarters. Many New York elected Democrats, including Charles Rangel, Jerrold Nadler, Scott Stringer, Tish James and Adriano Espaillat, joined them.
Cuomo gave a strong campaign speech, battering his Republican opponent and praising Clinton’s presidency. Clinton, speaking for more than 25 minutes, forcefully supported his former cabinet member but also meandered through other themes. He spoke of the broad consequences of the upcoming election, casting it primarily about the federal government and the changes that a Republican controlled senate could have. While engaging, his speech was not as solid an election battle cry as Cuomo’s speech.
Here are highlights of the speeches:
Among the Cuomo attacks on Astorino was an exaggerated claim based on the long-running HUD lawsuit against Westchester County. Dramatization and hyperbole are a standard element of campaign speeches, but Cuomo’s assertion that Astorino “won’t allow … minorities to live in his county” pushed the boundary. Another of Cuomo’s recent campaign rallies also had racially charged comments. Continue reading →
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.
Congressional candidate Adriano Espaillat today led a group of supporters on a four mile walk through Manhattan, from 135th Street to his campaign headquarters on Sherman Avenue. With several dozen cars in a caravan following him and music blasting, the candidate and supporters sang and danced their way up Broadway.
Espaillat spoke to the press and his supporters just before the walk. Giving a fiery speech, he attacked Rangel for being “in the center of [the] dysfunction” in a “broken” Washington. Espaillat also attacked Rangel for having “sided with Wall Street” repeatedly. Here is the portion of Espaillat’s remarks made in english.
We talk with City Council Speaker, and Espaillat supporter, Melissa Mark-Viverito, about the congressional primary campaign in her East Harlem council district:
Update – Dancing & Singing on Broadway:
It was a bit north of the theater district, but there were some solid performances on Broadway.
Many elected officials participated in todays Little Neck Douglaston Memorial Day Parade, among them Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate Tish James, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
Update – Electeds on Parade:
We look at the Mayor’s, and other elected officials, reception:
de Blasio & Cuomo Remarks:
In what could be titled “a tale of two proclamations”, the Mayor and Governor each made brief remarks at the start of the parade and each presented their own proclamation to the parade organizers. Neither took questions. de Blasio invoked his father’s World War II service and injury, and subsequent struggles, in urging the audience to “never let their memories go” of service members injured or killed. Cuomo described himself as a “Queens boy” for whom it is a “pleasure to be back on [his] home turf.” H e declared it “a day to remember that freedom is not free”, noting that “we still have boys in harm’s way.” Their full remarks are here:
Steve & Teddy:
Congressman Steve Israel, chair of the DCCC, met a historic figure. Every parade needs a little goofiness after all.
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer continued his series of town hall meetings focused on Hurricane Sandy recovery, visiting the Arverne Section of Rockaway Wednesday evening. (Our report on his initial town hall, in Rockaway’s Breezy Point, is here.)
Mayor Bill de Blasio took office on January 1st with an inauguration ceremony on the steps of City Hall.
For the Price of a Small Soy Latte:
In his inaugural address de Blasio highlighted his call for funding universal pre-K and middle school after school programs with an increased income tax on high earners. We look at his clever framing of the anticipated additional tax burden for those high earners.
Update – Applause:
For the Kremlinologists (CityHallologists? deBlasiologists?), here’s a brief clip of the introductions of elected & former elected officials and their respective applause, both by and for.
Update #2 – Stringer Oath:
NYS Supreme Court Justice Eileen Bransten administered the oath of office to Comptroller Scott Stringer, continuing on despite a jailbreak by one young attendee.
Eliot Spitzer voted this afternoon in a prototypical Spitzer event: arrive on-time, take care of the business at hand expeditiously and move on. He arrived right on time at his polling place, Manhattan’s P.S. 6, went inside, voted and came out. Total time from arriving at the school steps to back in the car, including a 1/2 block walk? About 7 minutes. That includes just over 1 minute talking to the press. You can watch that 1 minute press availability right here.
The only glitch? A reporter, from the New York Post I believe, wanted to ask “where is your wife?” Here’s what happened.
As Scott Stringer was endorsed by a group of about 50 clergy from around the city, he touted his plan to appoint a chief diversity officer in the comptroller’s office and to pursue diversity goals for businesses and city agencies. Seemingly implicit in his plan was the premise that recent comptrollers have not done enough on these goals. I asked Stringer for his view of how the two most recent comptrollers, John Liu and Bill Thompson, have performed on these issues.