Category Archives: de Blasio Transition

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Fire Academy Edition

Speaking at the Fire Department’s training academy on Randall’s Island, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his appointment of Daniel Nigro as Fire Commissioner.  Nigro is a retired FDNY chief of department, and his long career at the FDNY included assuming operational command at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, after his predecessor as chief of Department, Peter Ganci, died in the building collapse.

Press Q&A:

On topic questions included changes in technology since Nigro retired from the FDNY, Nigro’s thoughts and feelings upon accepting the job, his disability pension, whether he has a set of goals or planned steps concerning diversity in the Department, what Nigro see’s as the Department’s biggest challenge, when he will start as commissioner, what it was like to tell his father, a retired FDNY captain, that he will be commissioner, how the Department is different from when he retired, why the mayor did not retain current Commissioner Sal Cassano, the 911 call system, what Nigro sees as an appropriate level of diversity, whether the mayor considered any women or candidates of color for commissioner and whether Nigro has a predominant image or memory from September 11th.

Off topic questions included Falun Gong’s efforts to obtain a parade permit, the 10 race horses that have died at Aqueduct this winter, Michael Mulgrew’s “war with reformers” comment, whether the House Select Committee on Benghazi is unfair to Hillary Clinton, treatment of teachers in ATR under the newly negotiated contract with the UFT and the moving of identified remains of September 11th victims to the World Trade Center site.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The DCA Edition (Updated)

This afternoon Mayor Bill de Blasio named Julie Menin as Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs.

During the Q&A, Mayor de Blasio was asked by Newsday’s Matthew Chayes whether there is “any truth” to a New York Post report that the City is offering taxi medallions to carriage horse drivers as part an elimination of their industry.  The Mayor had a one word answer:

Update – Press Q&A:

Here is the mayor’s full Q&A with the press:

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Team of Rivals Edition (Updated)

Today Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the appointment of Nisha Agarwal as commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Lorraine Grillo as President of the School Construction Authority and Steve Banks as commissioner of the Human Resources Administration.  de Blasio noted that he and Banks ran against each other for city council in 2001, when de Blasio was first elected.

Charter Co-locations:

de Blasio fielded several questions on the reversal yesterday of three Success Academy charter school co-locations.  (He also answered questions on this topic at a press conference yesterday.)

Update – Full Q&A:

Here is the full press Q&A:

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Pinch Edition (Updated x 2)

Today Mayor Bill de Blasio named his wife, Chirlane McCray, as chair of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.  McCray and de Blasio visited the Osbourne Association, a non-profit dedicated to assisting incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people improve and transform themselves, in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx.  During their visit, de Blasio announced the appointment and answered questions from the press.  McCray gave a short speech following de Blasio’s announcement.

To start, here’s a brief clip from the beginning of McCray’s remarks.

Update – McCray:

Here are McCray’s full remarks.

Update #2 – Q&A:

Here is de Blasio’s full press Q&A.

On-topic questions include: whether de Blasio and McCray’s partnership is modeled on the Clintons, how the Mayor’s Fund will be financed including whether they plan to ask Michael Bloomberg to contribute money, the anticipated size of McCray’s staff and office location, whether McCray will regularly issue a public schedule, how de Blasio decided to appoint McCray, whether she will continue to be active in other efforts related to the administration such as the pre-K initiative, whether McCray is ready for increased public and press scrutiny and how others who disagree with any actions or decisions by McCray at the Mayor’s Fund can address those with the mayor.

Between the on-topic and off-topic questions, de Blasio made a statement criticizing the NY Times for a specific story on Sanitation Commissioner John  Doherty.  (de Blasio’s statement and an in-depth look at the topic is also separately available here.)

Questions on other topics include: the NYS Attorney General’s investigation of the Puerto Rican Day Parade committee, whether de Blasio’s pre-K initiative will include private and parochial schools, the “absent teacher reserve”, a protest by Girls Prep supporters against de Blasio’s expected  charter school policies, performance of Administration for Children’s Services and whether de Blasio plans to contact the St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee to urge them to lift their exclusion of LGBT groups and organizations.

Our look at Mayor de Blasio’s complaint about the New York Times’ reporting on Sanitation Commissioner John Doherty is here.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Vortex Edition

Today, as his city remained in the grip of a polar vortex, Mayor de Blasio was snared in a vortex of press skepticism, some deserved, some not.

On the deserved skepticism, reporters questioned de Blasio’s undisclosed appearance and speech at AIPAC last night.  (His attendance at this political event was only revealed through the intrepid reporting of Capital New York’s Azi Paybarah and Sally Goldenberg.)  de Blasio has promised to be “transparent” and, in stark contrast to Mayor Bloomberg, to reveal his “off duty” whereabouts even when not holding any public events.  He has held regular press briefings in the 23 days since inauguration, today’s being the 12th that I’ve attended and at least his 14th or 15th in total, easing reporters concerns arising from his much less frequent transition briefings.  Despite that positive trend, the mayor appearing unannounced at a closed press political event is a legitimate press and public concern, as de Blasio appeared to recognize at today’s briefing.  He pledged to disclose such appearances in advance, although expressly not promising press access when event organizers do not want to allow it.  For now, the public and press await proof that Mayor de Blasio will meet a higher standard than many elected officials, most notably Governor Andrew Cuomo, who go to great lengths to limit knowledge of their whereabouts and squelch press coverage of much of their public activity.

On the undeserved skepticism, the NY Post-driven hysteria over actual snow (snowsteria?) in my neighborhood continued.  “Plow my street immediately and continuously” appears to be the expectation of some of my fellow Upper Eastsiders, notwithstanding the combination of 11″ of snow, rush hour traffic which clogged streets and slowed plowing and the polar-vortexed low temperatures which precluded melting and markedly reduced the efficacy of road salt.  The reality that sometimes it snows and that clearing of said snowfall may not happen before we awake seems difficult for some to accept.  Could the City’s snow clearing be better than this round?  Sure.  Should my neighbors and I fear snow class warfare?  I think not.  How much better a job New Yorkers should expect is a fair question, and de Blasio both broadly promised to “do better” and to report in detail on the shortcomings of the city’s storm response.

The clearest message of all from today’s press conference is that, even as he continues to assemble his administration, de Blasio’s honeymoon is over.  He’s grappling with Governor Cuomo over his signature campaign issue as the legislative clock ticks, the press and public have focused on his current actions rather than dreaming of the future and, barely three weeks in, he “owns” the City’s successes and failures.


The primary purpose of today’s press conference was to announce the appointment of Stacey Cumberbatch as Commissioner of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services and of Jon Paul Lupo as Director of the Office of City Legislative Affairs.  Here is de Blasio’s full press Q&A.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Second Snow Edition (Updated x 2)

Today Mayor Bill de Blasio held a news conference on two separate topics: the significant snowstorm which had just begun and to announce the appointment of Maria Torres-Springer as Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services and of Dr. Ramanathan Raju as the Commissioner of Health and Hospitals Corporation.

Rockaway Ferry & Boardwalk:

During the Q&A portion of the press conference, Grace Rauh of NY1 asked the mayor about the interim extension of Rockaway ferry service, as separately announced by the mayor’s office this morning, and about the projected May 2017 projected completion date for rebuilding the Rockaway boardwalk.  Ferry service was instituted on an interim basis after Hurricane Sandy destroyed the only subway access to Rockaway and it has been very popular with Rockaway residents.  The post-Sandy rebuilding of the boardwalk, under Parks Department jurisdiction, is a sore point for many Rockaway residents who see the three year schedule as unreasonably slow.  Here’s how the mayor responded.

Update – Full Q&A:

Here is Mayor de Blasio’s full Q&A, featuring snow prep and the de Blasio family shoveling arrangements, the mayor’s pre-K/middle school program initiative and the governor’s competing proposal, Health & Hospitals Corporation challenges, the Rockaway ferry and boardwalk and more.

Update #2 – Pre-K/middle school initiative:

This excerpt contains a discussion of Mayor de Blasio’s proposed pre-K/middle school program and the associated income tax surcharge.  Governor Cuomo has recently sought to preempt de Blasio’s plan, proposing a less expansive plan statewide, and not supporting a dedicated income tax surcharge.  Reporters asked many probing questions but de Blasio, politely, refused to signal any assent to the Cuomo plan supplanting his own.  He noted that “other advances … are welcome”, but that “the people of the City have given me a mission … to achieve this [meaning de Blasio’s] plan.”

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Well-being Edition (Updated)

Today Mayor de Blasio announced his appointment of Dr. Mary Bassett as Commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and of Rose Pierre-Louis as Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence.

In this clip the mayor and Dr. Bassett addressed the City’s regulation of metzitzah B’peh.

Update – Full Press Q&A:

Mayor de Blasio answered questions from the press on a wide range of topics, including HIV prevention, the role of the Health Department and the “Nanny State”, the large-size soda ban, Metzizah B’peh, fines and penalties levied by the Health Department, the ethics complaint filed against Patrick Gaspard, the city’s fiscal outlook, stop & frisk and more.  Here is his full press Q&A.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Press on Press Edition (Updated x 3)

This afternoon Mayor Bill de Blasio announced seven appointments to his press staff:  Phillip Walzak as Press Secretary, Rebecca Kirszner Katz as Special Advisor to the Mayor, Marti Adams as First Deputy Press Secretary, Angela Banks as Director of Operations for the Press Office, Maibe Ponet as Deputy Press Secretary, Wiley Norvell as Deputy Press Secretary and Mahen Gunaratna as Director of Research and Media Analysis.

Following statements by the mayor and his appointees, Mayor de Blasio answered questions from the press.  Topics included his press office operations and media strategy, whether he likes the media, media strategy lessons from his campaign, whether he ever considered a career in journalism, the council speaker candidacy of Melissa Mark-Viverito, funding for his pre-K/after school program initiative and possible elimination of member items in the city council.  Here is his full Q&A.

Update – de Blasio & the Press:

Many of the questions concerned Mayor de Blasio’s relationship with the press, both personally and professionally.  Here are excerpts featuring some of those questions.

Update #2 – de Blasio’s News Sources:

We look at Mayor de Blasio’s reply when Capital New York reporter Azi Paybarah asked the mayor how he gets his news.  (The July report referenced in this report can be seen here.)

Update #3 – Maibe Ponet:

Here is Mayor de Blasio’s introduction of Deputy Press Secretary Maibe Ponet.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Afternoon Edition (Updated)

This afternoon Mayor Bill de Blasio held his second press conference of the day.  His first press conference featured labor leaders declaring their support for de Blasio’s pre-K/after school initiative.  His second press conference, held in City Hall, featured his announcement of six appointments: Bill Chong as Commissioner of Youth and Family Development, Marco A. Carrion to lead the Community Affairs Unit, Mindy Tarlow as Director of Operations, Peter Ragone as Senior Advisor for Strategic Planning, Max Sevillia to oversee federal legislative affairs and Sherif Soliman to oversee state legislative affairs.

Following his statement and statements from the appointees, de Blasio answered questions from the press.  Topics included Peter Ragone’s role in the administration, de Blasio’s engagement in the city council speaker race, plans concerning his wife’s possible staff and office, Health Commissioner Tom Farley, Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina’s pension and salary and Governor Cuomo’s plans to allow medical marijuana in New York. Here is his full press Q&A:

Update – Peter Ragone:

Here is Mayor de Blasio’s introduction of Peter Ragone, Senior Advisor for Strategic Planning, and Ragone’s remarks:

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Closeout Edition

Bill de Blasio’s mayoral transition drew to a close on New Year’s Eve, with a final press conference to announce five appointments: Gilbert Taylor as Commissioner of Homeless Services, Polly Trottenberg as Transportation Commissioner, Bob Linn as Director of Labor Relations, Stanley Brezenoff as a Special Advisor to the First Deputy Mayor and Kyle Kimball as President of the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

Following statements from de Blasio and each of the appointees, de Blasio answered questions from the press.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Knockout Edition (Updated)

With 36 hours to being sworn in as mayor, Bill de Blasio announced his selection of Carmen Farina as schools chancellor.

Press Q&A:

Here is the full press Q&A.

The Battle of Brooklyn:

Following the press conference, de Blasio spent a few minutes talking with the students who had dutifully stood behind him.  He described the Battle of Brooklyn, an important Revolutionary War battle that occurred near the site of the press conference, and then took questions from the students.

Farina & de Blasio as Student Tumbles:

As Carmen Farina was speaking, one of those dutifully standing students tumbled off the riser.  The student was reported to be unhurt.  Here’s how Farina and de Blasio reacted.

Update – Horse Carriages:

de Blasio reaffirmed his pledge to eliminate horse carriages.  Although he’s slightly modified his campaign pledge to do so immediately upon taking office, he’s unequivocal in his pledge to do so promptly.  (Watch de Blasio and the other candidates discussing horse carriages at a mayoral forum in May.)  Here’s what he had to say on Monday.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Corp Counsel Edition

Today Bill de Blasio announced his selection of Zachary Carter as Corporation Counsel.  Although often not a focus of public attention, Corporation Counsel is the city’s chief legal officer and an integral part of managing city government.

Following his announcement, and a statement by Zachary Carter, de Blasio took questions from the press.  Topics included pending legal cases against the city on stop & frisk and the Central Park 5, Chiara de Blasio’s recent video describing her struggle with substance abuse and depression and how the transition process will proceed once de Blasio becomes mayor.