Lhota In Far Rockaway (Updated)

Joe Lhota visited several organizations in Far Rockaway on Thursday, including the Achiezer Community Resource Center on Beach 9th Street and the Torah Academy for Girls on Beach 6th Street.

We spoke with Lhota concerning some Sandy related topics at the Sh’or Yoshuv Rabbinical College on the Rockaway/Lawrence border.

Press Q&A:

After touring the Achiezer Community Resource Center, Lhota spoke with the press.  Among the topics: the need to restructure city government for the first time in 11 years, Lhota’s recent ad and his view of Bill de Blasio, Banksy, the number of police officers and his synagogue mini-kerfuffle.

Lhota & de Blasio Debate

Joe Lhota and Bill de Blasio faced off in their first one-on-one debate Tuesday evening.  The full debate, hosted by WABC-TV 7, is available here.  Following the debate, both candidates spoke with the press, continuing their attacks.

Joe Lhota:

During and after the debate, de Blasio continued working to tie Lhota to the Tea Party and Republican Party dysfunction in Washington.  Lhota has fought back, asserting for weeks that he rejects both the Tea Party and the Republican tactics in Washington.  In his post-debate remarks, Joe Lhota continued pushing back, arguing that he is independent of those elements of his party.  He accused Bill de Blasio of “lying about me” and “continu[ing] to lie about who I am and what I am,” and calling de Blasio a “typical classic political hack.”

     A Uniter, Not a Divider:

I asked Lhota whether it’s instructive for voters to consider his service under Rudy Giuliani and de Blasio’s service under David Dinkins.  He responded by describing himself as a problem-solving unifier during the Giuliani administration, without reference to Dinkins or de Blasio’s time in the Dinkins administration.

Lhota Q&A:

Here is Joe Lhota’s full press Q&A.

Mayoral Race Shapes Up

Here is a look at the mayoral race, as sent to our subscribers this afternoon.  (You can join our subscriber list on the right side of this page.)

Mayoral Race Shapes Up

The race for mayor has shaped up, but it certainly has not heated up.  With election day exactly three weeks from today, the race has settled into a lopsided contest with Bill de Blasio leading Joe Lhota by 40 to 50 points in public opinion polls.  As de Blasio and Lhota meet tonight in their first televised debate, Lhota desperately needs to shake up the race.   

Although the consistently lopsided polls paint the race as finished and predictable, a close watching of what the candidates are saying reveals many unexpected moments.  For example – which candidate said this? 

“What we need to do to deal with income inequality, which we have in this city, is talking about what programs we’re going to have to be able to deal with the income inequality, how we’re going to make New York affordable, how we’re going to make affordable housing more plentiful in the City of New York.”  It was Republican Joe Lhota.   Continue reading Mayoral Race Shapes Up

Lhota Down at the Dump

On Friday Joe Lhota and Assembly Member Joe Borelli held a press conference calling on the City to allow Staten Island drivers to use roads inside the now-closed Fresh Kills landfill.  Fresh Kills was closed in 2001 and is presently being developed as an eco-park.

Opening roads for local drivers, who endure heavy traffic congestion, is an appealing issue for Lhota.  It highlights his deep deficit in the race, however, as he’s fighting on what should be his turf both geographically and topically, rather than on Bill de Blasio’s turf.

Here’s our look at Lhota’s battle.

Here is complete video of the press conference held by Joe Lhota and Assembly Member Joe Borelli.

de Bate, but no de Blasio (Updated)

Tonight Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota and Independence Party mayoral  candidate Adolfo Carrion participated in a mayoral candidate debate hosted by NY1.  Bill de Blasio was invited, but declined to attend.

Topics that Lhota addressed following the debate include whether his idea of switching MTA Bridges & Tunnels to City control has any chance of state approval, his view of Mayor Bloomberg’s resiliency planning, charter schools and his reaction to a WSJ story describing Ken Langone, one of Lhota’s strongest supporters, as “convinced” that Lhota will lose.  Here is Joe Lhota’s full press availability following the debate.

Update – Carrion:

Following the debate, Adolfo Carrion spoke with the press concerning Bill de Blasio’s absence, terming his absence a message of “disrespect to the voters.”  Carrion also discussed voter interest and turnout.

Lhota, Free Riders, Mitt & George W.

In recent days, Joe Lhota has discussed the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, on several occasions.  His primary focus has been to denounce House Republicans for demanding defunding of Obamacare in exchange for ending the federal government shutdown.  While doing so, however, Lhota has repeatedly returned to a discredited notion: that health care, and health insurance, reform isn’t really necessary because all New Yorkers have access to health care via hospital emergency rooms.  It’s a point that many elected Republicans, George W. Bush and Mitt Romney among them, have tried to make.

In reality, the fact that many Americans have hospital emergency rooms as their only health care option is one of the big drivers of the need for broad changes in our health care system.  So-called “free riders” who use, but don’t pay for, the health care system, are an enormous financial burden to insureds and taxpayers.  The problem is exacerbated by the frequent situation that free riders tend to not have access to preventative care, and only seek health care in a hospital emergency room once they’ve developed a serious condition, resulting in higher costs.  Those higher costs are, of course, borne by others.

So yes, it’s true that we provide health care to all via our public hospitals.  But it’s not true that it’s free.  Paying for those unable to pay or obtain insurance themselves is part of the problem, not the solution.

Al & Joe, Together Again

That’s the Rev. Al Sharpton and Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota.  Joe Lhota, along with Bill de Blasio and many other elected officials and candidates, went to the National Action Network’s House of Justice to celebrate Rev. Sharpton’s birthday.  (Lhota had visited the House of Justice for a private meeting with Rev. Sharpton about three weeks ago – our report is here.)  Here’s Rev. Sharpton introducing Lhota and Lhota’s full presentation.

A Fiscally Responsible Progressive

Today Bill de Blasio sought to refine his fiscal self-description to “fiscally responsible progressive.”  Speaking on Friday to business leaders at an ABNY breakfast, de Blasio described himself as a “fiscal conservative.”  That description was a surprise to some, but it goes to de Blasio’s possible electoral vulnerability of being portrayed as a wild-eyed spendthrift.  When I asked de Blasio about his “fiscal conservative” self-characterization today, he responded with the refined term and offered a lengthy description of how achieving his goals will require fiscal responsibility, saying that there’s “no contradiction between good fiscal management and an activist government.”

Lhota Attacks

Joe Lhota went on the attack against Bill de Blasio today, as a new Quinnipiac poll showed de Blasio with an enormous lead.

Dana Rubenstein of Capital New York asked Lhota for his view of how Governor Cuomo’s newly announced tax commission, with the assigned mission of finding taxes to cut, affects de Blasio’s signature proposal of funding universal pre-K with an increased income tax on high earners.  Lhota responded by launching into a harsh critique of de Blasio as “essentially a political hack who has no no plans for the future”, and characterizing de Blasio’s stated lack of a “Plan B” if his tax proposal does not received needed state legislative/gubernatorial approval as showing “management immaturity.”

de Blasio Working To Define Lhota

Today Bill de Blasio continued seeking to define Joe Lhota as part and parcel of the radical wing currently dominating the national Republicans, the Tea Party House Republicans.  de Blasio has been hitting that theme for a few days, seeking to define Lhota at a moment where Lhota is still fairly unknown and the Tea Party House Republicans, as the deeply unpopular face of the Republican political brand, are in the national spotlight.

Yesterday, Lhota tried to avoid being linked to the House Republicans, condemning them  for the federal government shutdown and calling it “outrageous and wrong”.  He also described the Tea Party as a “bad force” in the Republican Party.

Today, responding to a question from Politicker’s Ross Barkan, de Blasio continued his effort, describing the current Republican Party as “a very right wing party” and saying of Lhota that “if you’re a member of the Republican Party, you’re buying into the whole idea.”   Team de Blasio smells political blood, and appears focused on framing this city race through the lens of Washington shutdown politics.

Lhota Talks Shutdown, Tea Party, Koch & Cuomo

Today Joe Lhota responded to reporters’ questions about the federal government shutdown by condemning the shutdown and the House Republicans, describing the shutdown as “flat out wrong.”  Lhota also more broadly condemned the Tea Party and it’s influence on the Republican Party.

When I asked about the paradox of condemning the Tea Party but receiving large amounts of money from one of the Tea Party’s most prominent financial backers, David Koch, Lhota responded strongly.  He noted Koch’s many philanthropic endeavors and said that he, like Koch and Bill de Blasio, believes in abortion rights and marriage equality.  Lhota also pointed to Andrew Cuomo having received (according to Lhota) $81,000 from Koch and his wife, asserting that taking Koch’s money did not make Lhota any more of a tea party supporter than doing so made Andrew Cuomo a tea party supporter.

Public Advocate Candidates Conclude

The Democratic race for Public Advocate came to a close Monday night as the two remaining candidates attended their last joint forum.  Letitia James and Daniel Squadron addressed the Bayswater Civic Association, in the Bayswater section of Rockaway.  They spoke separately, crossing paths briefly.  Squadron arrived toward the end of James’ presentation, sitting quietly in the audience.  As James left, they exchanged smiles and a quick wave.

We spoke separately with each, asking the same two questions: First, your thoughts as you close out the last night of a long campaign?  Second, your thoughts on the ugly turn in the race?  Here’s what they had to say.

We began our coverage of the Public Advocate’s race at the first candidate forum, held in Astoria in February, available here.  We have lots of coverage since then, available here.