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.
Mayor Bill de Blasio today touted a high level of affordable housing activity in the City, reporting that the City “financed the creation and preservation of 20,325 affordable apartments and homes during fiscal year 2015.” de Blasio spoke at a Bronx press conference, accompanied by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and several Bronx elected officials including Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Congressman Jose E. Serrano, State Senator Jose M. Serrano and Assembly Members Luis Sepulveda, Michael Blake and Latoya Joyner.
Mayor de Blasio and Council Speaker Mark-Viverito both expressed support for federal government action to address Puerto Rico’s deep fiscal crisis. de Blasio suggested federal financial assistance, urging the federal government to “take responsibility” for resolving the crisis and that it has both the “obligation” and “capacity” to do so. Mark-Viverito suggested a change in federal bankruptcy law to allow Puerto Rico to file a bankruptcy petition and operate as a debtor under federal bankruptcy law (Puerto Rico, like states, is not eligible to do so). Here are their full answers, including the Spanish portion of Mark-Viverito’s.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the addition of two Muslim holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, to the New York City school system’s calendar. They are the first Muslim holidays included on the City school calendar. It’s a change long-sought by New York’s Muslim community and reflects a Muslim population in the City and it’s schools growing in both number and political influence.
“I do my official business on official email” said Mayor Bill de Blasio today when asked whether he uses “private email for public business.” He also offered strong praise for Hillary Clinton, but did not respond directly to part of the posed question: whether he thinks its “ever appropriate … for a senior government official to rely exclusively on private email.”
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito responded somewhat imprecisely, saying that “there are times when we, yes, when we rely on private email, but we do use our government email.” Public Advocate Tish James and Council Member Danny Dromm did not respond to the question posed by Matthew Chayes of Newsday. de Blasio spoke during a press conference announcing the addition of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha as school holidays.
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito gave a wide ranging State of the City address on Thursday. Speaking to an audience of approximately 300 people at the Johnson Community Center in East Harlem, Mark-Viverito called for new programs which would expand access to civil legal services, create new technology-focused programs in City high schools, as well as for expanding existing agencies and programs such as the Human Rights Commission. In contrast to Mayor de Blasio, who did not address a topic at the center of the City’s past year, Mark-Viverito discussed the NYPD and the criminal justice system in her State of The City speech.
Here is her full State of The City Speech.
N.B. Photos of Mark-Viverito’s State of The City are here.
In her State of the City address, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito addressed a topic central to the City’s well-being; the NYPD and its relationship with the citizens of New York. She noted the reality that all plans for changing and improving New York City depend on a basic underpinning, New York City remaining safe, and that such safety is “ensured by the diverse men and women of the New York City Police Department.” Mark-Viverito lamented the “senseless murders” of Detectives Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, saying that those murders “left a gaping hole in the hearts of New York.” She also praised Commissioner Bratton and gave a shoutout to the “wonderful” local precincts.
Mark-Viverito again promised to seek a 1,000 person increase in the NYPD’s headcount and praised the City Council for a program in Mayor de Blasio’s proposed budget to fund replacing aging bullet-resistant vests for the NYPD.
City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito held a press conference this morning to condemn the recent killing of two NYPD officers and offer support to the victims’ families and the Department. Mark-Viverito, who has had her share of political tensions with the police force, spoke in somber tones accompanied by about 25 of her fellow council members. She began by characterizing the deaths of Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos as “a cold-blooded assassination.”
When asked about Mayor de Blasio’s comments yesterday blaming the media for fostering divisiveness, Speaker Mark-Viverito response that “I don’t share in that thought”, appears to leave the mayor increasingly isolated.
Here is the english portion of her full opening statement. (She also made a statement in spanish.)
Update – Q&A:
Mark-Viverito answered several questions, including her reaction to some protest groups rejecting the call for a moratorium on protests, whether she shares the sentiment expressed by Mayor de Blasio that media coverage of protests has fostered divisiveness, whether the council will table any pending NYPD-related bills, whether she’ll attend the Ramos and Liu funerals, her reaction to PBA President Pat Lynch’s comment that responsibility for the bloodshed begins “on steps of City Hall”, how long a protest moratorium should last and whether her “show of support … will be received as … political expediency.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio today signed two laws which markedly reduce the City’s cooperation with the federal government’s efforts at deporting people unlawfully in the United States. At a ceremony on the steps of Our Lady of Sorrows in Corona, the mayor signed bills which prohibit the presence of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency at Rikers Island and other City facilities and which provide that the City corrections and police departments “will no longer honor requests by ICE to detain an individual for up to 48 hours beyond their scheduled release unless (1) ICE provides a judicial warrant as to probable cause, and (2) the individual in question has been convicted of a violent or serious felony within the last five years, or is a possible match on the terrorist watch list.”
Following opening remarks and a signing ceremony, the mayor answered questions from the press. On-topic questions included the timing of the effectiveness of the laws signed today and when ICE will close it’s office on Rikers Island, how many people currently on Rikers Island will be covered by these laws, details of Carlos Rodriguez (who was held on Rikers Island for eight months on an ICE detainer) path to this country and his thoughts during his eight month detention, what Mayor de Blasio would like to see the federal government do about immigration and what he will do absent such action, what he would tell Republicans who think his approach is a dangerous precedent, de Blasio and Melissa Mark-Viverito’s positions on municipal IDs and voting rights for non-citizens, the number of people arrested on misdemeanors and then subject to ICE detainers and whether persons arrested on felony charges must first go through the justice system before being subject to an ICE detainer.
Off-topic questions included efforts at combating sex trafficking on Roosevelt Avenue, reports of criminal charges against a defunct arm of the Working Families Party, whether the mayor will veto proposed bills criminalizing police use of chokeholds and requiring police to advise people of a right to refuse before asking to search them, whether the mayor plans to see the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge when they visit New York, whether his message is getting lost in critical news coverage and his view of the Astoria Cove development deal.
Several thousand people marched from the site of Eric Garner’s death past the Richmond County District Attorney’s office, ending at a rally overlooking New York Harbor. Organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton, the march and rally was about the Garner case and demands for criminal prosecution of the police officers involved, but also about broader complaints and concerns around policing and racial discrimination in New York and throughout the country.
Among the elected officials I spotted: Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Members Helen Rosenthal, Jumaane Williams, Carlos Menchaca, Daneek Miller, Ydanis Rodriguez, Vanessa Gibson, State Senators Adriano Espaillat and Gustavo Rivera and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. Mayor de Blasio, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Tish James were not there. Former Governor David Paterson joined, marching with Rev. Sharpton. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout was also there.
Update – Teachout:
We asked Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout why she was attending the march and her answer touched on stop & frisk, broken windows policing and Andrew Cuomo’s decision to go fishing. We spoke with Teachout in the Staten Island ferry terminal as she headed to the march.
(Flashing neon signs produced ever-changing colors and brightness on Teachout as we spoke.)
We spoke with Speaker Mark-Viverito on the ferry ride to the march. I asked her why she was going and what she hoped the march would accomplish:
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.
Fresh off of securing pre-K funding in the state budget, Mayor Bill de Blasio pivoted to the next phase of his pre-K initiative with a visit to Ridgewood’s P.S. 239 aimed at encouraging parents to register for fall 2014 enrollment. Among those joining de Blasio for a press conference following the mayor’s tour of the school; Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, NYS Senator Mike Gianaris, Council Member Danny Dromm and Council Member Antonio Reynoso.
Bratton & Police Morale:
During the Q&A portion of the press conference, Newsday’s Emily Ngo asked de Blasio about Police Commissioner Bratton’s recent statement on NYPD morale and his attribution of responsibility for it to former Commissioner Ray Kelly. Here’s how de Blasio responded:
Update – Full Q&A:
On topic questions included the application process for admission to the pre-K program, whether the website and other enrollment tools have been sufficiently tested, how applicants will be chosen or assigned to specific pre-K spots, how the public schools hosting expanded pre-K will be chosen, how the space sharing arrangements between new pre-K classes and existing classes will be managed, the role of charter schools in providing new pre-K seats, whether pre-K students may also enroll in after school programs and whether parents applying for public school pre-K spots should refrain from also applying for community based organization pre-K spots. Off topic questions included Commissioner Bratton’s statement regarding NYPD morale, whether the mayor agrees with parents opting out of Common Core testing and whether such opt outs may skew the test data, the process for parents wishing to opt out of Common Core testing, specialized high school entrance exams and the mayor’s actions concerning raising the minimum wage.
Here is the full press Q&A:
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