Governor Andrew Cuomo continued his tradition of commemorating the September 11th attacks with a motorcycle ride to Ground Zero. Cuomo hosted several hundred riders who traveled from Albany and Nassau County at a Javits Center luncheon, then joined them for the last ride segment to the World Trade Center. That final segment retraces the route of the FDNY’s Rescue Company 1 that dark day from their West 43rd Street quarters to the World Trade Center, where 11 of their members perished.
Past years have featured celebrity guests including then-Vice President Joe Biden, Robert De Niro, Billy Joel and reality TV star Paul Teutul Jr. (Joel and Teutul Jr. joined the ride to the World Trade Center.) This year’s celebrity guest and fellow rider was Paul Teutul Sr., while Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and NYS Attorney General Tish James joined Cuomo at the lunch. Several state legislators and NYC council members attended the lunch but none were spotted on the ride. None of the three citywide electeds or Council Speaker Corey Johnson attended.
Following the ride Governor Cuomo spent about 15 minutes greeting fellow riders, receiving a warm reception as he walked through crowd shaking hands and admiring the parked motorcycles. He did not take questions or speak with reporters.
Governor Andrew Cuomo joined the September 11th Memorial Ride yesterday, leading the last segment of a motorcycle ride commemorating the people killed in the September 11th attacks. That final segment retraces the route of the FDNY’s Rescue Company 1 that dark day from their West 43rd Street quarters to the World Trade Center, where 11 of their members perished. Approximately 500 riders joined in, with many coming in three large groups from Albany, Ulster and Nassau counties.
Cuomo headlined a pre-ride lunch at the Javits Center, joined by Robert De Niro.
Was Mayor Bill de Blasio invited to a September 11th motorcycle ride and lunch? Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was joined by Vice President Joe Biden for the lunch and Billy Joel for the lunch and ride, was asked that question shortly after the ride ended at the World Trade Center. Here’s his response to Newsday’s Matt Chayes:
Governor Andrew Cuomo led the last leg of a commemorative motorcycle ride to the World Trade Center today, joined at a pre-ride lunch by Vice President Joe Biden and Billy Joel. Fellow motorcycle aficionado Joel accompanied Cuomo at the head of the several hundred motorcycle convoy.
Cuomo, joined by Joel, spoke with the press after arriving at the World Trade Center. Question topics included his extensive recent interactions with Vice President Joe Biden and Biden’s possible presidential campaign, the minimum wage increase to $15 now supported by Cuomo, whether there is “a brutality problem” in the New York State prison system and whether Mayor Bill de Blasio was invited to the lunch and motorcycle ride today. Here’s his full gaggle:
“A little weird, dial it back there” responded Jeb Bush to a tangled question about his whereabouts and actions on September 11th, 2001. It’s a small moment illustrating an element of the popular town hall format; unscreened questions. The question was posed during a Bush town hall meeting in Keene, New Hampshire.
Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to conduct, together with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a review of the Port Authority’s security procedures. Cuomo announced his planned review this afternoon during a speech at the World Trade Center site, and then discussed it briefly afterwards.
Here’s what Cuomo had to say in a brief post-speech discussion. The discussion began with a question (from Zack Fink of NY1) of what Cuomo expects to do in his joint effort with Christie:
Update – Speech:
After leading a 9/11 Memorial Motorcycle Ride from the West 43rd Street quarters of FDNY’s Rescue Company to the World Trade Center, Governor Cuomo spoke at a commemoration ceremony. With the World Trade Center behind him, Cuomo spoke about the site itself and the accelerated construction there, as well as current security threats and dangers. He also announced a planned review, with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, of the Port Authority’s security procedures. Here is his full speech:
Update #2 – P.O. Huczko:
As Governor Cuomo mingled with the crowd, shaking hands and posing for pictures after his speech, he encountered newly graduated Port Authority Police Officer Liam Huczko. Huczko, who just joined the department after graduating from the Port Authority police academy, is the son of Stephen Huczko, a Port Authority police officer lost on 9/11. It was a memorable moment, with loss, hope and potential combined in a few seconds.
Today in Breezy Point residents commemorated the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy with a public ceremony and a volunteer effort at planting dune grass on a long sand dune that residents recently created. Many elected officials and candidates, including Joe Lhota, Phil Goldfeder, Joe Addabbo, Eric Ulrich, Tish James, Scott Stringer and John Liu attended.
As we walked from the ceremony toward the ocean and the dune, I asked Joe Lhota whether he likes going to the beach for fun. Turns out that he loves the ocean and loves to surf.
In the past three days, both mayoral candidates have talked sports in Breezy Point. Sunday, Bill de Blasio received a less-than-welcome invitation to play basketball while visiting Breezy Point.
Update #2 – Lhota Press Q&A:
After planting dune grass, Joe Lhota spoke with the press. He sought to keep the focus on Sandy recovery, but also made some revealing comments about his decision to run and some of the tactical considerations in his campaign. He declined to criticize Bill de Blasio’s absence from Rockaway today, saying that there are many places and ways to commemorate the anniversary of Sandy and that he is “not going to use this as a day to politic.”
Lhota spoke very highly of the Blooomberg administration’s resiliency plans, describing the Plan NYC report as a “great roadmap” and an important part of Mayor Bloomberg’s legacy.
He seemed genuinely surprised by a reporter asking why he hasn’t done more to campaign on his role in recovery from both Sandy and the September 11th attacks, saying that he is “running on the future, not running on the past” and that “glorifying tragedies is not something that I think is important in campaigning.” He added, perhaps naively, that “I think everyone knows what I did.”
Lhota also gave a detailed look at his decision to run for mayor and his related discussions with Governor Cuomo.
John Catsimatidis has aggressively used the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in his campaign advertising. His ad, Got It, features a former Port Authority Police Inspector attacking Joe Lhota for recently referring to the Port Authority police as “Mall Cops”, while invoking the memory of the 37 Port Authority police officers who died on September 11th. Catsimatidis uses a similar attack in his ad Not Even Close.
Catsimatidis’ use of September 11th is the most aggressive of any New York political ad and is a marked departure from the practice of most candidates over the past 12 years. I asked Catsimatidis whether he thinks it’s troubling or problematic for candidates to use September 11th in political advertising.
Catsimatidis’ ads have some additional layers of irony. First, Joe Lhota was Rudy Giuliani’s deputy mayor during the attack and it’s aftermath, going to the World Trade Center before the second plane hit and accompanying Giuliani that morning. Giuliani, of course, was lionized for his response. Catsimatidis professes to be “friends with Rudy”, but attacks his rival on a topic that his rival’s former boss is widely acclaimed for. Second, Giuliani and his administration had a long history of tangling with the Port Authority. The PA is an agency that mayors love to hate as it operates major parts of New York City’s infrastructure with no mayoral control and a shared gubernatorial control (with the New Jersey governor) that provides only partial power to the New York governor. Should Catsimatidis become mayor, he may find himself in an adversarial relationship with the Port Authority. Finally, although Catsimatidis professes to “love all people”, the former Port Authority Police Inspector featured in his ad has been reported as making hateful statements on Facebook and elsewhere.
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