Republican mayoral candidate Paul Massey held his first press conference today, launching harsh attacks on Mayor Bill de Blasio and sparring with the press. Massey has been in a slow launch of his campaign, with a limited number of public appearances and no press conferences until today.
Speaking on the steps of City Hall, Massey read a lengthy prepared statement focused on the reported six ongoing investigations examining various actions of Mayor de Blasio and his administration. Declaring that de Blasio “is corrupt” and has “sold out New Yorkers”, Massey urged that a seventh investigation begin to examine the mayor’s plan to create a legal defense fund to pay his personal counsel and seek outside contributions for that fund. Massey said that he has written to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and Manhattan D.A. Cy Vance calling for such an investigation.
A four alarm fire erupted this morning on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, drawing a massive FDNY response. The fire began in the basement of a small building on Second Avenue between 82nd and 83rd Street, spreading upwards through pipe spaces and walls.
Hundreds of thousands of people filled Manhattan streets Saturday in opposition to Donald Trump. Marching from Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, opposite the Trump World Tower, to Fifth Avenue near Trump Tower, the enormous throng voiced their disagreement with many things Trump; from snarky dismissals of his “small hands”, to his stated opposition to abortion and reproductive rights to his misogynsitic views crystallized in his infamous Access Hollywood recording.
Anger and opposition were the underlying motivators for the march and most participants, but the mood of the march itself was quite celebratory. Participants appeared thrilled to be there, joining with hundreds of thousands of like-minded opponents of President Trump in cheering each other on.
The day began with a rally in an overflowing Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, with thousands more people filling the surrounding streets. The rally and march were surprisingly light on elected officials. Chirlane McCray, wife of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was the top-billed speaker, and Public Advocate Tish James and City Comptroller Scott Stringer also spoke. Senator Chuck Schumer was among the crowd during the march, but no elected officials walked at the head of the march. Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand did not attend.
It was an arresting start to the Trump presidency for three New York City elected officials. Council Members Jumaane Williams and Carlos Menchaca and NYS Senator Marisol Alcantara sat down in the middle of Fifth Avenue just as Donald Trump took office, staging a protest that promptly produced arrests by the NYPD. They were joined by several others, including Kirsten John Foy, Gillman Rose, Margalit Ewart and Council Member Williams’ mother.
Family and friends gathered by the thousands Friday to say goodbye to NYPD Detective Steven McDonald. In contrast to most line-of-duty police officer funerals, in which most attendees did not personally know the deceased, virtually all of the thousands in and around St. Patrick’s Cathedral that morning knew of McDonald and a large portion knew him personally.
Shot and paralyzed in 1986, McDonald had an unmatched role in New York City’s civic life. Literally unable to speak initially after being shot he became a unique voice, both tirelessly supporting and encouraging his fellow police officers and publicly forgiving the teen who nearly killed him.
Governor Andrew Cuomo continued his Second Avenue subway pre-opening tour Thursday, with a preview of the 96th Street station. Trains are not yet running, but the station is close to completion ahead of the expected January 1st opening. Governor Cuomo, who effectively controls the MTA, has been on active round of site visits and unveilings as the line extension moves toward completion. Cuomo was joined by local elected officials, including Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Congressman Charles B. Rangel and his successor State Senator Adriano Espaillat, Assembly Keith Wright, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Dan Garodnick. Mayor de Blasio did not attend.
Cuomo and Maloney along with MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast spoke to an audience jammed into the station entrance and did a walk-through of the station.
New York State’s Electoral College convened Monday, casting its 29 votes for New York’s home state candidate Hillary Clinton. Led by former president Bill Clinton, the electors met in the majestic state senate chamber at the Capitol for a tightly scripted session without any disruption or deviation. Clinton’s New York victory, expected to be a foundational bloc for her winning campaign, was instead a cruel coda to the disorienting election night experience of an anticipated presidency suddenly vanishing. There were some smiles and applause in the senate chamber Monday, but it wasn’t a celebration. Like a jilted groom recasting the pre-paid reception as a party, New York Democrats could cheer their own victories and predominance in their state but the overriding feeling was the last-minute loss of something so much bigger.
Former President Clinton and Governor Andrew Cuomo were the stars of the show, with Cuomo presiding as president of the convention. They entered the senate chamber together to a standing ovation, after all of the other electors and spectators had taken their seats, later rising to cast their ballots together. Cuomo lauded Clinton during his closing remarks, drawing a standing ovation for the former president.
Mayor Bill de Blasio continued his energetic embrace of New York City’s Muslim population Sunday evening, visiting Staten Island’s Albanian Islamic Cultural Center. de Blasio spoke at a celebration of Prophet Muhammad’s birth. Since taking office de Blasio has embraced the City’s Muslim community, adding two Muslim holidays to the school system’s calendar for example, with that embrace more visible as we enter the Trump presidential era. For de Blasio the Staten Island location was an additional plus, as many Staten Islanders feel that de Blasio has minimal interest in the smallest borough.
Arriving about 30 minutes late, de Blasio joined a group of about 75 men seated on the carpet of a large prayer room. Women were seated on a rear balcony, obscured by a scrim-draped railing. de Blasio was accompanied by the NYPD’s borough commander, Assistant Chief Edward Delatorre and escorted by the Center’s president, Dr. Zarkani Vardar, and Imam Tahir Kukaj. Both Vardar and Kukaj gave warm introductions of de Blasio, with Vardar thanking de Blasio for the respect implicit in his visit. Dr. Vardar’s compliment that he could see de Blasio as president someday drew a smile and a chuckle from the mayor.
de Blasio spoke strongly on confronting anti-Muslim bias and hatred, promising continued vigorous effort by the NYPD. He praised Imam Tahir Kukaj, hailing the NYPD’s arrest of a man charged with threatening the Imam. Afterwards, the mayor greeted and took photos with several dozen well-wishers. He did not take press questions.
The “friends” scattered, leaving separately through different court house doors, united only in their silent response to press questions.
Joe Percoco, a former top aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo, and seven co-defendants were arraigned today on federal corruption charges. According to prosecutors, some of alleged corrupt actions committed by Percoco were for “friends” of the governor and his political operation.
The eight defendants were arrested and charged in September on a criminal complaint prepared by the U.S. Attorney’s office. Today’s arraignment followed the recent issuance of an indictment by a federal grand jury, which replaced the criminal complaint. All eight defendants were reported to have entered not guilty pleas today.
Thousands of anti-Trump protesters filled Fifth Avenue Saturday afternoon and evening, venting their anger and frustration at the election of Donald Trump. Converging marches from Union Square and Columbus Circle brought protesters to a stand-off with police just south of Trump Tower. There were a couple of minor scuffles between protesters and police, but no major trouble that I observed. Waving signs and chanting, the crowd’s contempt for Trump was unmistakable, expressed in signs ranging from angry to funny to earnest.
The annual memorial service marking the 2001 crash of American Airlines Flight #587 was held Saturday morning. Mayor Bill de Blasio joined attendees at the service, held at the memorial constructed just off the beach on Rockaway’s Beach 116th Street. The flight was headed from JFK to the Dominican Republic and the majority of those onboard were Dominican Americans and Dominican nationals. The crash also killed five people on the ground in Rockaway.
de Blasio was infamously late to the 2014 memorial service, his first as mayor. He missed the moment of silence, provoking a firestorm of criticism over his then-frequent tardiness to public events. This year, as in 2015, de Blasio arrived early and worked his way through the audience shaking hands, hugging and talking with attendees before the service began.