Council Member Eric Ulrich harshly condemned the City’s Build It Back program Monday, calling for the resignation of Amy Peterson, the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery Operations who oversees Build It Back. Speaking at a press conference on Beach 117th Street in Rockaway, Ulrich described Build It Back as hopelessly failing with little visible prospect of success.
The owner of the home Ulrich spoke in front of has been displaced since February, having moved out in anticipation of substantial work through Build It Back. Shortly after the owner relocated Build It Back erected a fence, effectively locking out the homeowner and preparing the property for that work. According to Ulrich and the daughter of the homeowner that work has not yet begun, however. Ulrich further described this homeowner’s experience as common, saying that many of his constituents are in similar circumstances.
Mayor Bill de Blasio celebrated the passage of three City Council bills increasing access to tampons and pads in schools, jails and shelters with a Tuesday signing ceremony and press conference. City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Members Julissa Ferreras-Copeland and Vanessa Gibson and Assembly Member Michael Blake joined de Blasio at the High School of Violin and Dance in the Bronx.
After remarks by the elected officials, following an introduction by 11th grader Mayelin Sanchez, de Blasio sat for the actual bill signing. He then returned to the lectern for a lengthy press Q&A.
Here is his full press Q&A, split into on and off topic portions:
Assembly Member Keith Wright brought his campaign for the Congressional seat held by Charles Rangel to a close this afternoon, conceding defeat to Adriano Espaillat in a Harlem press conference. Joined by about 20 elected officials, including Rangel, and two of the other candidates in the race, Wright and Espaillat made a public display of unity standing in front of Sylvia’s restaurant in Harlem as Wright acknowledged that Espaillat’s 1,200 vote lead in the preliminary vote totals would hold through counting of absentee and affidavit ballots and the final canvassing of poll site voting machines.
Rangel, who strongly supported longtime ally Wright in the race, anchored the joint appearance with kind words for both men. Other elected officials attending included Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Public Advocate Tish James, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and state and city legislators from the Bronx and Manhattan.
“I couldn’t find my name. But I’m so glad I did find his name” said Congressman Charles Rangel after voting in his first congressional election in more than 45 years in which he was not a candidate. The “his” was Assembly Member Keith Wright, a longtime Rangel ally whom Rangel has endorsed as 13th Congressional District Democrats select a nominee to replace Rangel.
Rangel arrived at Harlem’s P.S. 175 to vote accompanied by his wife Alma and Wright. Appearing a few minutes ahead of schedule, Rangel spoke with the press both before and after voting, expressing support for Wright, but clearly not in a rush to leave office or the spotlight. Rangel loves the camera and it loves him right back, as shown in the two press Q&A’s Rangel did this morning, one as he arrived and a second after voting.
Many of the questions focused on Rangel’s emotions as a successor is selected and on his post-Congress plans, but he and Wright also addressed allegations that supporters of rival Adriano Espaillat have sought to suppress voting by African American voters in the District.
State Senator Adriano Espaillat led a group of supporters up Broadway Saturday afternoon, looking for attention and votes ahead of Tuesday’s 13th Congressional District primary. The Espaillat caravan included about 50-75 walkers and 20-25 cars, all led by the flag-bedecked Espaillat campaign bus. The caravan began with a public endorsement of Espaillat by State Senator Bill Perkins who, together with Council Members Ydanis Rodriguez and Mark Levine, joined Espaillat for the walk uptown.
The race to succeed Charles Rangel has become increasingly racially driven in the past several days, with numerous allegations of impropriety. In a brief pre-walk Q&A with reporters Perkins dismissed allegations by Assembly Member Keith Wright that Espaillat and his supporters are trying to suppress African American voter participation in the Tuesday election. Espaillat stood by silently as Perkins spoke, only offering that he’s asked the Department of Justice to monitor the election in order to “make sure that everybody has access to vote unimpeded.”
Espaillat’s reception was good, but not overwhelming, as he walked up Broadway from 135th. The very modest reaction in the first 10-15 blocks increased as he passed through the northern stretch of Harlem and into the heavily Dominican Washington Heights. Cheers and shouts rang out further uptown, with some downtown drivers rolling down their windows to shake hands with the uptown traveling candidate. There were no signs or displays of support for any of the many other candidates in this election. The only contrary expression (at least as far as a non-Spanish speaking reporter could discern) was a small group of men near 175th Street chanting “Trump, Trump, Trump.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke with the press this afternoon, following a Staten Island bill signing ceremony marking the passage of a law intended to combat the growing scourge of opioid addiction. This was Cuomo’s third such appearance of the day, preceded by visits to Buffalo and Farmingdale.
Question topics included Cuomo’s assessment of the recently completed legislative session, details of the anti-opioid law signed today, Cuomo’s recent demand that the MTA address a rise in reported sexual assaults in the subway system and the reported lane Lincoln Tunnel lane closure by NYPD officers ensnared in a corruption investigation.
Chants of “Trump, you are not my friend” and “Donald Trump, for Wall Street” rang out this afternoon in front of Trump Tower as 40 protesters denounced Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Among the topics addressed by speakers at the protest, organized by the Hedge Clippers campaign, were Trump’s fundraiser scheduled for tonight and his previous claims that he would not raise “corrupt” money, Trump’s comments on the Orlando massacre and the lack of any subsequent Congressional action on guns, the lack of action on Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis and Trump’s recent attempts to describe himself as a friend of the LGBTQ community. Singled out for specific condemnation were Trump fundraisers Steven Feinberg, Wilbur Ross and John Paulson.
Three counter-prostesters joined the excitement, with two working their way into the group and holding their “Make America Great Again” hats out for the cameras. The smaller and more successful of the two worked her way to the front of the group, sparking some blocking and had her hat snatched and tossed aside. A third counter-protester appeared at the conclusion of the protest, carrying a sign declaring that “Obama + Hillary Support Slavery.” It seemed to be Obamacare related, but that’s not entirely clear.
New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito went to Donald Trump’s home and office Monday, holding a press conference outside Trump Tower to condemn Trump’s claims that a federal judge hearing a lawsuit focused on “Trump University” could not be fair to Trump because, in Trump’s words, “[h]e’s a Mexican.” Mark-Viverito was joined by Council Member Carlos Menchaca, the first Mexican-American elected official in New York City.
Dean Skelos, former New York State Senate Temporary President and Republican Majority Leader, was sentenced today in federal court on corruption charges. Skelos received a five year prison sentence, while his son Adam received a six and a half year sentence.
Father and son arrived separately but departed together, navigating a media crush each time.
After both Skeloses had made it into a waiting car a family member had a brief altercation with a reporter. Grabbing a reporter’s wrist, A nephew of Dean Skelos, Basil (Billy) Skelos, grabbed a reporter’s wrist and flung her phone across the street. After being surrounded by press as he walked away Basil Skelos was stopped by the NYPD and charged with misdemeanor assault.
Republican presidential candidate John Kasich spoke with the press today following an MSNBC town hall recorded in Jericho, New York. Network appropriate peacocks roamed the grounds of the Milleridge Inn, site of the town hall, occasionally squawking as Kasich spoke.
Question topics included advice or promises for young voters struggling to make it economically, how he can overcome his current gap in convention delegates, undocumented immigrants and the possibility of offering a path to legalization (but not citizenship), what he would say if either of his daughters “came out as gay”, his view of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s relationship with Republicans in the state senate and whether he’s lost any delegates due to inadequate organization.
Ohio Governor John Kasich held a rally at Iona College in New Rochelle Saturday, the first of the three remaining Republican presidential candidates to hold a campaign event in Westchester County. His audience of about 1,000 was supportive, beginning and ending with standing ovations and reacting positively throughout his remarks.
The audience was a mix of ages, with a strong but not predominant number of Iona students, and overwhelmingly white. The audience members I spoke with were about evenly divided between strong Kasich supporters and interested but undecided.
Kasich offered himself as an accomplished alternative to Trump and Cruz, touting his lengthy tenure in Congress and his gubernatorial experience as effective preparation for the White House. His presentation was heavy on exhortations of the importance of caring and the value in fully developing each person’s true self. It’s somewhat Oprah-esque; offering a sense of caring that contrasts sharply with Donald Trump and, to a lesser extent, Ted Cruz. It also contrasts sharply with the apparent mood of many voters in an election dominated by anger.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders returned to his childhood block today, holding a brief rally in front of his childhood home. Speaking to a crowd of several hundred in Midwood, with several hundred more in an overflow area, Sanders reminisced a bit but largely stuck to his established campaign themes.
Seven candidates for the 13th congressional district seat currently held by Charles Rangel met for a candidate forum Sunday. Hosted by the Allianza Dominicana Cultural Center, the forum featured Adam Clayton Powell IV, Michael Gallagher, Assembly member Keith Wright, Suzan Johnson Cook, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, Clyde Williams and Assembly member Guillermo Linares.