Category Archives: Jimmy Vacca

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Westchester Square Edition



On Wednesday Mayor Bill de Blasio worked to turn attention away from his troubled relationship with the NYPD and toward one of his successful initiatives, highlighting significant improvements to an historically dangerous intersection with a visit to the redesigned and rebuilt intersection of East Tremont Avenue and Silver Street in the Bronx neighborhood of Westchester Square.  The redesign and rebuild is part of his administration’s Vision Zero initiative.

Joined by DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, Public Advocate Tish James, Assembly Member Luis Sepulveda, Council Member Jimmy Vacca and NYPD Assistant Chief for Transportation Thomas Chan de Blasio then held a lengthy press conference nearby.

On Topic Q&A:

The on topic Q&A included redesign plans for other streets, especially Queens Boulevard, why the administration attributes the reduction in pedestrian fatalities to Vision Zero and not to regular year-to-year variances, how the administration actually knows that driving speeds are reduced, why so few street redesign projects have been done on Staten Island, data for any changes in safety at this E.Tremont/Silver Street intersection, why Commissioner Bratton did not attend, why there are few speeding and failure to yield tickets issued in this (45th) precinct, the negative effect of speed bumps on emergency response vehicles, plans for marking and painting of roads, whether the mayor will seek additional red light camera authorizations from the state legislature, the paucity of criminal prosecutions against drivers who kill pedestrians and an estimate of money received from speed camera tickets.

Off Topic Q&A:

The off topic portion of the press conference substantially focused on de Blasio’s continuing friction with the NYPD and the PBA.  Question topics included the recent rollout of the City’s municipal ID program, an internal PBA meeting reported to have degenerated into yelling and shoving over PBA President Pat Lynch’s demands for an apology from the mayor and whether that provided “consolation” to the mayor, whether he takes comfort from the low number of PBA members reported to have signed “stay away from my funeral” statements, Bratton’s comment that the “well was poisoned” by de Blasio’s bring of former Sharpton aide Rachel Noerdlinger, a potential Teamsters strike at Hunts Point market, Governor Cuomo’s consideration of legislation allowing public access to grand jury minutes, the mayor’s objections to a City Council proposed bill outlawing police use of chokeholds, a reported Cuomo/Lynch meeting and what role the governor should fill in the Lynch/de Blasio dispute, whether the mayor is willing to acknowledge “missteps”, the reports of Legionnaire’s Disease in Co-op City, de Blasio’s reaction to a possible 2016 Mitt Romney candidacy and when he last spoke with the Rev. Al Sharpton.

From #NextSpeaker to #NewSpeaker (Updated)



Today Melissa Mark-Viverito was elected speaker of the New York City Council,  prevailing over Council Member Dan Garodnick in what was initially a seven person contest.

Immediately after the council meeting, Speaker Mark-Viverito held her first press conference as speaker.  Here is the full video of that press conference.

Update:

Six council members were defeated by Melissa Mark-Viverito in the quest to be speaker.  We look at what those six said at the council meeting.

Three of those six members made extended remarks.  Here are full statements by:

Dan Garodnick:

Mark Weprin:


Jumaane Williams:

Speaker Selection: The Talking Transition Tent Edition (Updated x 2)



Last night the council speaker forum series rolled into the Talking Transition tent for a forum moderated by Errol Louis and Juan Manuel Benitez and broadcast live on NY1 and NY1 Noticias.

Here’s an insightful question asked by Louis:  Describe one piece of legislation that you think speaks most directly to why you would be a good city council speaker?  Their answers:

Weprin:  Workplace Religious Freedom Act.

Vacca:  Pregnancy Rights Act.

Palma:   a bill to provide shelters with adequate food and supplies in the event of a future severe storm (not specifically named in her answer).

Mark-Viverito:  ICE Out of Rikers.

Garodnick:  Tenant Protection Act.

Dickens:  a bill centralizing plumbing complaints to the Department of Buildings (not specifically named in her answer).

Update – Corey Johnson:

We spoke with Council Member-elect Corey Johnson about the public forums, the speaker selection process and the progressive bloc’s timing and process.

Update #2 – Full Forum:

Here is the full forum:


Be sure to watch our coverage from the prior forums held in Jackson Heights, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan.  Also watch some lighter moments from this forum here.

Politicians Are People Too (Updated)



This brief clip features six of the contenders for city council speaker, just before a forum broadcast live on NY1.  The six are seated onstage, in place just a few minutes before the broadcast is to begin.  As last minute tech checks are completed and the clock ticks toward air time, the production team played a few songs, both in the hall and on the sound feed.  (The sound was not edited or dubbed for this video.)

Update – Busting Out …:

The pre-forum fun also included a brief dance move by one of the speaker aspirants.

Speaker Selection: The Muzzio Edition (Updated x 2)



Wednesday evening, Professor Doug Muzzio moderated a council speaker forum at Baruch College.  Seven contenders participated; Jumaane Williams, Dan Garodnick, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Annabel Palma, James Vacca, Mark Weprin and Inez Dickens.

Karen Koslowitz:

Following the forum, we spoke with Council Member Karen Koslowitz about the race, how it’s shaping up with her fellow council members and when she expects the winner to be identified.  Koslowitz, a Queens Democrat, was elected to office in 2009 and re-elected this year.  She previously served on the Council from 1991-2001.

(Lots more video on the full page.) Continue reading

Speaker Selection: The Bronx Edition (Updated)



Last night, city council speaker contenders met in the Mt. Eden section of the Bronx for the second in a series of five public forums.  Council members Jimmy Vacca, Annabel Palma, Mark Weprin, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Dan Garodnick and Inez Dickens appeared before an energized crowd, in a discussion moderated by BronxTalk radio host Gary Axelbank.

The series of public forums is unprecedented for selection of the city council speaker.  The city council speaker is not elected by voters, but is selected by the 51 members of the city council without any direct role for the public.  Several newly elected council members, including Ritchie Torres and Helen Rosenthal, conceived and organized the series in an effort to change, or at least expand, the way the speaker is selected.  We spoke with Torres and Rosenthal about their purpose in doing so and whether the forums have, so far, met their goals. Continue reading

Speaker Hopefuls First Forum



On Thursday evening, five City council members hoping to succeed Christine Quinn as Council Speaker participated in a public forum.  It was an unusual event, held for an office that only the 51 members of the next council will vote for yet mirroring the format of forums held for countless public offices.

We spoke with each of the five participating council members: Dan Garodnick, Mark Weprin, Annabel Palma, Jimmy Vacca and Melissa Mark-Viverito.  I asked each the same question: what do they think of the Speaker Quinn/Mayor Bloomberg relationship and do  they see it as a good model their speakership and relationship with Mayor de Blasio.  Here’s how each responded.

Dan Garodnick:

Mark Weprin:

Annabel Palma:

Jimmy Vacca:

Melissa Mark-Viverito: