Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference today in which he defended himself for a second consecutive day against witness testimony in a federal corruption trial. de Blasio spoke in the Arverne section of Rockaway, as part of a lengthy presentation and press conference marking the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Sandy and promoting the City’s ongoing rebuilding and resiliency efforts. Mayor de Blasio held a press conference yesterday, following a Midwood synagogue visit, in which he similarly defended himself against that testimony.
de Blasio again cast the witness testifying in the trial of Norman Seabrook, Jona Rechnitz, as a “liar” and “convicted felon,” energetically rejecting the assertion that de Blasio committed any crime or legal but wrongful acts in return for Rechnitz’ campaign and political contributions. de Blasio repeatedly emphasized that the U.S. Attorney’s office would have known all that Rechnitz has alleged, as he’s been cooperating with the U.S. Attorney, when the U.S. Attorney ended its investigation of de Blasio without bringing any charges.
Here is the full “off-topic” portion of the Q&A at today’s press conference. All but one of the questions focused on Rechnitz’ testimony.
Former Congressman Bob Turner offered some thoughts on his former colleague, Rep. Steve Scalise, who was badly wounded in the attack on a Congressional Republican baseball practice this morning. Scalise had a particularly important role in obtaining federal funding for Hurricane Sandy victims. Turner’s district was heavily impacted by Sandy and Turner’s home was destroyed.
We spoke during a Rockaway Republican Club meeting in Belle Harbor. Turner is now the Queens County Republican Chairman.
Mayor Bill de Blasio visited Rockaway Friday, touring a short stretch of the rebuilt boardwalk and making brief remarks but not answering any press questions. Large portions of the five mile boardwalk were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, with rebuilding now just about complete. The final unopened portions are scheduled to reopen in the next week. Continue reading Photo Gallery: de Blasio On de Boardwalk→
Mayor Bill de Blasio marked the third anniversary of Hurricane Sandy today with a visit to Staten Island’s south shore. Appearing in front of a home rebuilt by the Build It Back program, de Blasio lauded the progress in Build It Back during his administration. He announced that the program is to be completed by the end of 2016 and detailed the evolution in the program from the time he took office. Among the statistics he cited were “2,015 construction starts (including 1,217 construction completions), as well as 5,319 reimbursement checks totaling nearly $104 million”, while noting that each of these categories was at zero when he took office.
Mayor Bill de Blasio visited Breezy Point today, joined by Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro. Their appearance two days ahead of the third anniversary of Hurricane Sandy’s landfall was intended to laud the progress in the City’s Build It Back program, and included a separate visit with a Breezy Point family just returned to their rebuilt home. de Blasio and Castro were joined by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Assembly Member Phil Goldfeder (who represents Rockaway), Council Member, HPD Commissioner Vicki Been, Housing Recovery Office Director Amy Peterson, Resiliency Director Dan Zarilli, HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary Marion McFadden and HUD Regional Administrator Holly Leicht.
Mayor de Blasio’s staff had announced the press conference as fielding “on topic” questions only. de Blasio implemented that restriction even more restrictively, declining to answer “on topic” questions addressing the planning and future operation of the ongoing recovery efforts. Question topics included the estimated time for completion of all of the Sandy recovery home rebuilding, the implementation of new flood maps, whether de Blasio’s reported future endorsement of Hillary Clinton is tied to a longterm need for federal government assistance, whether in Secretary Castro’s view the City could do better on any element of Sandy recovery efforts, communicating an increased sense of urgency to City agencies, significant variations in the reported number of Build It Back applicants, how the City will continue its increased rate of repairs, details on the construction firms used in the program and praise for developer Gerry Romski.
Governor Andrew Cuomo came to Breezy Point this afternoon, holding a bill signing ceremony at the Point Breeze Clubhouse. Joined by State Senator Joe Addabbo and State Assembly Member Phil Goldfeder, Cuomo signed into law a bill extending an exemption for Breezy Point residents from an pre-existing requirement that they obtain a special permit from New York City for rebuilding or repairs. Cuomo also announced a state study of raising the elevation of homes in Breezy Point.
Cuomo spoke with the press following the signing ceremony. Question topics included Bill de Blasio (multiple times), Uber, Cuomo’s recently increased rate of public appearances, concerns expressed by district attorneys on Cuomo’s executive order appointing the NYS attorney general as a special prosecutor in all police killings of unarmed civilians and the City’s Sandy recovery programs.
Update – Uber:
Cuomo suggested that his administration will wade into the escalating confrontation between Uber and the de Blasio administration:
Mayor Bill de Blasio visited Rockaway Friday afternoon, joining the annual beach opening celebration and holding a press conference. During his visit de Blasio announced that any surplus federal funding from the ongoing boardwalk rebuilding will be applied to other Rockaway projects. de Blasio was well-received, with elected officials offering praise and attendees providing applause. Elected officials joining de Blasio included Senators Joe Addabbo and James Sanders, Assembly Members Phil Goldfeder and Michele Titus, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Council Members Donovan Richards and Eric Ulrich. Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver and EDC President Kyle Kimball also joined de Blasio. Our photo gallery is here.
de Blasio has had a bumpy relationship with many in Rockaway, particularly in the western areas of Belle Harbor and Breezy Point. Those hard feelings were set aside Friday, however, with the combination of the festive summer beach opening and notable progress on boardwalk rebuilding. The audience of several hundred people applauded de Blasio’s boardwalk rebuilding and funding comments, although they sat silently as de Blasio praised FEMA. They responded to Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’s request for “a round of applause for Mayor de Blasio”, prompting a smiling mayor to reply “that just shows the generosity of Queens.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio marked the second anniversary of Hurricane Sandy with a press conference on the beach in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island. Earlier, he had participated in a home rebuilding in Coney Island.
de Blasio was joined at the press conference by members of his administration, including Amy Peterson, Dan Zarelli, Mitch Silver and Bill Goldstein, and elected officials including state senators Diane Savino and Andrew Lanza, council members Steve Matteo and Alan Maisal, Borough President Jimmy Oddo and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
We’ve divided the video of his Q&A as de Blasio did during the press conference; Sandy-related, Ebola-related and off-topic.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has recently spoken about a broad plan for economic development and transportation improvements in Rockaway. He’s spoken only in very general terms, however, without offering any details or more than a vague timeline.
He first discussed it at a press conference in Far Rockaway on October 15th, offering that he anticipates putting forth a “holistic development plan” that will outline a “long term vision for the economic growth of the Rockaways and the transportation to go with it.” When I asked about the timing, he responded that “you’re going to hear some more announcements in the coming months related to the Rockaways that are specific and then thereafter you’re going to see a much bigger plan … I think that’s something you’re going to see next year.” Today the Mayor responded that a plan, or at least elements of a plan, would be released “in the coming weeks and months.”
It’s unclear precisely what the Mayor intends, but his words clearly, indeed expressly, create big expectations.
One note – the Mayor’s schedule for Thursday includes “a meeting at City Hall with administration and elected officials to discuss Rockaway redevelopment.” That’s consistent with recent reports that Rockaway elected officials seeking to stave off the looming end of Rockaway ferry service would meet with de Blasio. His schedule gives a broader cast to that meeting, “Rockaway redevelopment,” rather than just ferry service.
Rob Astorino returned to Rockaway today, touring Beach 116th Street on the two year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. As his visit wrapped up, he spoke with reporters at the beach end of Beach 116th.
Here are selected excerpts. Among the question topics are transportation infrastructure, Governor Cuomo’s lack of appearances in Rockaway, what he would do differently concerning the state’s Sandy recovery efforts and whether he views Governor Cuomo’s heavy use of official events as “abusing the power of his office.”
Republican Electeds Support:
I asked Astorino about the limited support that he’s received from Republican elected officials.
Our coverage of Astorino’s prior visits to Rockaway are here and here.
Governor Andrew Cuomo hosted a Sandy-themed presentation at the Oakdale campus of St. Johns University this afternoon, along with Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Congressman Tim Bishop, Southhampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, Environmental Facilities Corp. President Matt Driscoll, Stony Brook University Samuel Stanley and DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. The presentation described Sandy-related projects underway, including a $380 million project to improve the sewer service in Suffolk, $880 million to improve the Bay Park sewage treatment plant in Nassau County and a newly-announced project to conduct research on nitrogen loading.
Contrary to his recent gaggles, Ebola was only a modest part of the gaggle. Sandy figured prominently in the questions and in his opening statement. Here is Governor Cuomo’s full Q&A session with press:
Update – Ebola Excerpts:
The gaggle featured three Ebola-related questions. The first was whether there is confusion concerning the evolving quarantine policy and whether there is any “daylight” between New York and New Jersey on that policy, the second asked whether he’s concerned about differing CDC and state policies and whether those differing policies send a “mixed message.” The final Ebola question concerned travelers “grabbing a connecting flight” and how the quarantine policy will apply to them.
Cuomo essentially repeated his points of yesterday, asserting that his policy has been consistent as “announced” on Friday and later “detailed.” He noted that the United States Army has adopted a 21 day isolation policy for soldiers returning from the Ebola zone and, pointedly observing that the CDC has yet issue a policy, asserted that the “CDC should talk to the Army … and work it out with them first.”
Concerning the question of whether or how passengers transiting through the Port Authority airports (and presumably meeting the other quarantine policy standards) will be treated, Cuomo replied “that’s gonna then depend on the jurisdiction, the home jurisdiction.” It’s unclear what he meant or whether the Port Authority has a clear policy for dealing with such passengers.
This video excerpt has the three Ebola-related questions and answers:
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