John Liu Discusses the NY Times Investigation (Updated)

At last night’s Democratic mayoral candidate forum, hosted by the Asian American Federation, John Liu was asked: “Do you think the New York Times was right in investigating your campaign finances as vigorously as it did?”

Liu tried to make nice with the Times, laying blame on federal prosecutors, but then said that the Times was “in bed with the federal government … they were being fed by the Feds”.  He also asserts that “not a single fake donor has been established other than the ones that were the result of an FBI undercover agent … tricking and deceiving his way into my campaign.”

Somewhat surprisingly, Liu received a nice but not overwhelming audience welcome.  Whether the attendees were merely restrained in their applause or whether they were not strongly supportive of Liu should be revealed today.  The Federation conducted a straw poll after the forum and we’ll bring you the results later today.

My apologies for the poor sound quality.

The Federation held a Republican mayoral candidate forum last week – coverage is here and here.

Update:  Straw poll results are in.  Liu – 54%, de Blasio – 29%, Albanese – 13%, Quinn – 2%, Thompson – 2%.

Thompson Looks for a Fight

As recent attention in the mayoral race narrowed to Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio, Bill Thompson tried to elbow his way into the mix.  It’s a classic move; a second place candidate, de Blasio, picks a fight with a first place candidate, Quinn, focusing attention on those two alone and leaving the rest of the field behind.  Today Bill Thompson tried to avoid that fate with sharp comments about Christine Quinn and the independent expenditure ad currently drawing attention.

Watch.

Democrat #6 – Salgado Kickoff Report (Updated)

Yesterday, Erick Salgado joined the crowd of candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor, holding a large campaign kickoff rally on the steps of City Hall.  (He has previously been campaigning and raising money – you can watch our report from a candidate forum he attended in March here.)

Salgado, a Brooklyn pastor little known in politics, staged an impressive rally.  His campaign brought in 300 supporters for his energetic speech.  Raised in Puerto Rico, he speaks english with a thick accent and somewhat jumbled syntax.  He nonetheless is engaging and charismatic, holding his audience in both english and spanish.  As he put it during his speech:  “I speak with an accent, I’m proud of it, but I don’t think with an accent.”

Notable supporters at the rally included Senator Ruben Diaz and Gregory Davidzon, the politically active operator of an influential russian-language radio station.  (We spoke with Senator Diaz about the arrest of his fellow Bronx Democrat Eric Stevenson – you can watch it here.)

He faces many challenges, but comes with some real strengths.  Watch our report for a full analysis.

Here is a more extensive set of clips from Salgado’s rally, including segments in spanish.

Senator Ruben Diaz Discusses Eric Stevenson and Albany

This afternoon I spoke State Senator Ruben Diaz about the arrest of his fellow Bronx state legislator, Assemblymember Eric Stevenson, and about whether the level of corruption in Albany has gotten better or worse since he was first elected.

We spoke at mayoral candidate Erick Salgado’s energetic campaign rally on the steps of City Hall.  Diaz endorsed Salgado.  We’ll have more on Salgado’s campaign in a later report.

Mayoral Mashup – Asian American Federation Edition

In our Mayoral Mashup we talk with voters, as well as political and policy leaders, about what they see as the most important issue facing New York City’s next mayor.

For this Mayoral Mashup we spoke with voters attending a Republican mayoral candidate forum hosted by the Asian American Federation, asking one simple question:  What do you see as the most important issue that our next mayor will face upon taking office?  Watch to find out what they had to say.

One additional note:  The Federation conducted a straw poll at the conclusion of the forum, with the following results:  Adolfo Carrion – 44%, John Catsimatidis – 29%, George McDonald – 27%.

We have some additional coverage of the forum here.

Watch our previous Mayoral Mashups here, herehere and here.

Joe Lhota on the NYPD Inspector General

Here’s a brief excerpt from Joe Lhota’s press conference in which he describes the provision of the proposed NYPD Inspector General bill that he finds “extremely distressing.”  He references a section of the proposed bill which provides that the inspector general would have “all powers necessary to conduct independent reviews of the [NYPD’s] policies”.  In responding to the question of why he objects to the proposed NYPD IG, but didn’t object to the MTA’s IG when he ran that agency, he goes on to say that the MTA Inspector General “does not have the ability to question the policies directly by the MTA.  It is an audit function.”

I looked at the statute authorizing the MTA Inspector General – here’s what I found in Section 1279(4)(b) and (c) of the Public Authorities Law:

“§ 1279 (4). The inspector general … shall have the following functions, powers and duties:

(b) to initiate such reviews as he may deem appropriate of the operations of the authority and its subsidiaries … in order to identify areas in which performance might be improved and available funds used more effectively;

(c) to recommend remedial actions to be taken by the authority and its subsidiaries … to overcome or correct operating or maintenance deficiencies and inefficiencies that he determines to exist;” (underscore added.)

Lhota is correct that the MTA Inspector General does not have the authority to examine the MTA’s “policies”.  He seems to understate some of the MTA IG’s statutory authority, however.  The statutory sections above appear to give the MTA IG authority for rather broad reviews at the IG’s own initiative and to “recommend remedial actions … to … correct operating deficiencies.”  That seems like a broad mandate.

Would a similarly drafted provision in the NYPD IG bill be acceptable to Joe Lhota?  We’ll try to get an answer.  Also, I’m unclear on whether the MTA IG has full authority to examine the operations of the MTA police. We’ll try to get that answer as well.

GOP Disaster

Today’s charges against Malcolm Smith, Daniel Halloran and four others are a political disaster for New York City’s Republican Party.  The alleged corruption goes to the heart of what little influence remains for the New York City Republican county organizations and their chairmen.

Leaders of two of the five county organizations and one of the four Republican members of the City Council were criminally charged.  The Complaint suggests that at least one, and possibly two, other county county chairmen were expected to support Smith in exchange for a quid pro quo payment.  According to the Complaint, Halloran expected to be able to drag along in his corrupt scheme any of the county chairmen who were not being bribed. Continue reading GOP Disaster

Christine Quinn’s Breakout Moment?

Here is why yesterday’s NY Times story on Christine Quinn is good, possibly great, for her:

  1. It shatters two lingering memes, first that she is weak-willed, indecisive and not strongly in control as speaker, and second that she is simply the mayor’s “lapdog”, doing his bidding.  Those don’t hold up well.
  2.  We have just concluded a months-long EdKochfest, celebrating his New York flavored orneryness.  Her NY Times profile sets her up as Koch’s emotional/tempermental successor.
  3. Most regular people think that yelling at “city officials, lobbyists and political operatives” is probably justified and a good thing.
  4. Bill Thompson must be jealous – a major part of his campaign is convincing voters that he has “fire in the belly.”  Wouldn’t he love a story like that about him?
  5. Every day that we spend talking about Christine Quinn is a bad day for Bill de Blasio, John Liu, Bill Thompson and Sal Albanese.

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