New York State Assembly Member Phil Goldfeder, who represents Sandy-battered Rockaway, spent several days in tornado-ravaged Moore, Oklahoma this week. We spoke with Goldfeder just after he returned to Rockaway this morning.
Well, sort of. This two week old video is from a forum held on April 25, 2013 by the Good Government Regular Democratic Club. The Rockaway-based club hosted four Democratic mayoral candidates, Christine Quinn, Sal Albanese, Bill Thompson and John Liu. Each candidate appeared separately, giving a lengthy presentation and then engaging in Q&A with the audience
We’ve posted some extended video below for three of the four. Sal Albanese video is still in process, and we’ll add it soon. Continue reading Mayoral Forum Vintage Video
In this report we visit Arverne East, 80 empty oceanfront acres in the Arverne section of Rockaway. Sitting in a flood zone adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean and vacant for nearly 40 years with little infrastructure, it has many challenges as well as remarkable potential.
As the clock winds down on the Bloomberg administration, the City is pushing forward with an innovative program to restart development there. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development, together with the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter and the site developers, has opened a public design competition for the site.
We visit the site, talk with the City commissioner in charge of the effort and consider what it all will mean.
In our current Report from Rockaway we speak with Kevin Boyle, editor of The Wave Newspaper.
The Wave is Rockaway’s weekly newspaper and it has faced two enormous recent challenges; the business tsunami which has swept through the news business and an actual hurricane which sent a wall of water through The Wave’s office, destroying everything in it, and displaced The Wave’s readers and advertisers.
We discuss how The Wave is dealing with those challenges, as well as The Wave’s role in both reporting the news and acting as a leading community voice as Rockaway works to rebuild.
Today I had the opportunity to talk with Senator Chuck Schumer and Shaun Donovan, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, about the outlook for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and particularly whether they foresee any changes or modifications to the program as currently in effect under the Biggert-Waters Act. (The primary purpose of their press conference, which also included Rep. Carolyn Maloney, was to announce additional mortgage forbearance and modification programs for homeowners affected by Sandy.)
The NFIP has been underpriced for many years and, after the large covered losses caused by Hurricane Katrina, it had a program deficit of more than $17 billion in early 2011. The deficit was addressed in the Biggert-Waters Act, which significantly modified the program. As The Wave newspaper of Rockaway has been extensively examining (see here and here), those changes in the NFIP, in combination with soon-to-be adopted new FEMA flood maps, will produce dramatically higher flood insurance rates and require many homeowners to purchase flood insurance for the first time. Such increased insurance rates and coverage requirements will likely have a deep long-term impact on Sandy-damaged areas such as Rockaway.
Senator Schumer accurately pointed out that the increases are to be phased-in over several years. That’s helpful to homeowners, of course, but it only delays the underlying long term economics; previously underpriced insurance is being brought to actuarial rates and large subsidies are being reduced or eliminated. Secretary Donovan said that it is the Obama administration’s position that Congress needs to act to “add … a long-term affordability provision” for “lower income and more vulnerable homeowners” to the NFIP. Any such provisions have yet to be detailed and are, at best, uncertain to occur. Secretary Donovan also spoke about the importance accurately and promptly preparing the new flood maps. Senator Schumer added that “we are going to have to examine” affordability.
Here’s the full clip of Senator Schumer and Secretary Donovan discussing the NFIP and Biggert-Waters. Watch what they had to say.
At last night’s mayoral candidate forum at Queens College, four Democratic candidates were asked about the City’s post-Sandy rebuilding plans, how they “would get the job done” and about options for “people whose insurance and FEMA support will not cover the expense of a new home and for whom rebuilding is not an option.”
The candidates, Sal Albanese, Bill de Blasio, John Liu and Bill Thompson, gave empathetic and sometimes informative answers that illustrate the continuing challenges for those rebuilding from Sandy. Bill de Blasio discussed communication problems restricting recovery efforts and his early efforts at formulating a mold remediation plan, while John Liu discussed FEMA funding and investments by the City pension funds. All four answers were not really addressing the question posed, however, and reflected the reality that each day other issues and political problems push Sandy recovery further away from center stage for most New Yorkers. One question among many, in front of an audience with many other concerns, the candidates touched on it briefly and moved on, driven by the need to talk about other things and connect on other issues interesting voters.
New Yorkers who continue to rebuild would be wise to work to foster a sustained discussion by the candidates, as our next mayor’s level of knowledge, interest and engagement will be a deeply influential force on the long term recovery.
We’ve posted the full question and all four answers. Although it runs about 10 minutes, if you are interested in the continuing Sandy recovery, it’s worth watching.
Christine Quinn and Erick Salgado did not attend this candidate forum. You can see our report on Christine Quinn’s discussion of Governor Cuomo’s proposed homeowner buyout plan here.
Today, Rockaway came to City Hall. A group of Rockaway residents rallied on the steps of City Hall, seeking to draw renewed attention from Mayor Bloomberg. We spoke with three mayoral candidates who attended the rally, and asked this question: “If Mayor Bloomberg called and asked you ‘what’s one thing I can do to improve how we’re doing in the Rockaways’, what would you say”?
Their answers reflect what we’ve previously reported, that many Rockaway residents are deeply disaffected by what they perceive as the mayor’s lack of interest or engagement in their community and it’s post-Sandy challenges.
Political leadership has many components, including managerial, policy and emotional leadership, with the last including the sense of voters that their elected leader cares about them and understands their community. The mayor’s tenure has included strong elements of the first two components, but much less of the third. That lack of emotional leadership continues to reverberate in post-Sandy Rockaway.
Check back for more coverage on the rally.
Also, be sure to watch our continuing coverage of post-Sandy Rockaway.
On Saturday, Mayor Bloomberg marched in the Rockaway St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Watch this Report from Rockaway to see the reception he received.
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 Rockaway voters participating in the 31st Council District special election and asked 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.