Monday, December 30, 2013

The Council speaker race : Where are the reforms ?

The Editorial Board of The New York Times finally weighs in on some of the controversies surrounding the Council speaker race, admonishing mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's strong-arming the Council to select Melissa Mark-Viverito as the next speaker.  "The mayoral meddling in Council business was unsurprising but unseemly," The NYTimes Editorial Board wrote, adding, "especially from someone who used to accuse Speaker Christine Quinn of being too close to Mayor Michael Bloomberg."  (Mr. de Blasio Picks His Speaker * The New York Times)

But The NYTimes Editorial Board stopped short of noting the campaign finance investigation and the possible ethics investigation involving one of Ms. Mark-Viverito's lobbyists, Scott Levenson.  Further, the Editorial Board seemed to be resigned to accepting Ms. Mark-Viverito's speakership without demanding any reforms to end the backroom deals that traditionally shape the selection of the Council speaker.  There are nine more days before the City Council meets to select its next speaker.  Before then, let's hope that The NYTimes Editorial Board strengthens its demands for reforming how the Council speaker is selected, so that the corruptive influence of money and lobbyists can be eliminated, irrespective of whether County bosses and lobbyists from either the right or the left are the ones trying to game the system.
In an editorial by Robert George published in The New York Post, the mayor-elect was again called a hypocrite for criticising the outgoing Council speaker for subjugating herself and the will of the Council to Mayor Bloomberg.  "The man who overtook current Speaker Chris Quinn in the Democratic mayoral primary largely by suggesting she was Mayor Bloomberg's toady will soon be a mayor himself - with his own self-chosen go-fer serving as speaker."  (Bill de Blasio's council coup * The New York Post)
Like The NYTimes, The NYPost didn't call for reforms to end the backroom deals in the Council speaker race.  Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reported that Ms. Mark-Viverito's rival for speaker, Councilmember Daniel Garodnick, was trying to woo some of Ms. Mark-Viverito's supporters, noting that "political maneuvering has been going on for months," but The WSJ report also stopped short of calling for reforms to end the backroom deals that determine the speakership.  (All-Out Bid To Change Speaker Vote * The Wall Street Journal)

A separate column by Fred Dicker published in The NYPost reported that Gov.Andrew Cuomo was said to be opposing Ms. Mark-Viverito's speakership.
"The governor, who wants to run for president, doesn't want to see the city turned into a People's Republic of New York at the same time he's trying to make the state at least look like it's business friendly," an anonymous political observer told Mr. Dicker.  ( Cuomo pushing to block de Blasio speaker pick Mark-Viverito * The New York Post)

After weeks of taking a leading position on examining the clear campaign finance violations and possible ethics violations, The Daily News has since become quiet.  (No to Mark-Viverito * The New York Daily News )(Keep the bums out * The New York Daily News)  

Reportedly, some of Ms. Mark-Viverito's supporters are unions, but outgoing Speaker Quinn also had union support.  It's not about who supports speaker candidates :  What prevents speaker candidates from conducting their leadership campaigns with transparency, compliance with regulations, and with integrity ?  How can we restore faith in the Council speaker, if the candidates seeking to succeed Speaker Quinn play by the same rules of the broken political system as did she ?  (Lobbyists Turn Out for Mark-Viverito's Swearing-In Ceremony * Politicker)

Now that Democrats are at war with one another over a blatant power grab in the Council speaker race, can someone with some authority call for reforms to end the backroom deals and the corruptive influence of money and lobbyists in politics, especially in the Council speaker race ?  If the good government groups are silent and the political reporters and the Editorial Board of The NYTimesabdicate their responsibility, can we count on the editors of The Daily News to be our public advocate ?


The Shifting Balance of Power in NYC Politics ; On One Side Are County Party Bosses and Big Business, On Other Side Are Lobbyists And Special Interests

Both Sides Play By The Same Playbook Of The Broken Political System : Flouting Or Even Breaking The Rules : Both Sides Exploit Citizens United ; The Kraken Bears Down On Democracy

But where are the reforms to end the cynical trap of corruption ?

Rather than reacting with resignation that the Council speaker can only get picked by making backroom deals, using lobbyists that trigger campaign finance investigations, possibly violating ethics rules, and inspiring shaming editorials from the city's leading newspapers, what can progressive reformers demand in this stead ?

All these newly-converted "progressives," but nobody's coming forward to propose a truly progressive reform agenda to fight the corruption of backroom deals ?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Major Snow Storm To Hit NYC, But de Blasio Has Yet To Name Sanitation Commissioner

Do you remember the last time we had a major, who didn't take a major snow storm seriously ? Sanitation trucks got stuck in the snow, because they started too late, and some side streets in Queens looked like barricades of snow got dropped down on us, with no way of possibly getting out.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Chiara de Blasio : The media hypocrisy of addiction and recovery

Sex and drugs : Personal privacy should matter, but in politics, love affairs and rehab gets manipulated, depending on what there is to gain.

When news broke that mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's spokeswoman, Lis Smith, was having an affair with a married man, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, Mr. de Blasio tried to downplay the story. "I respect Lis as a professional," Mr. de Blasio told The New York Daily New, adding, "But I also respect her right to privacy, so I’m not going to get any further into it."

His reaction to Ms. Smith's love affair with a married man contrasted with how the de Blasio campaign reacted to news of former Rep. Anthony Weiner's extramarital sexting.

Indeed, there was a lot of pressure on Mr. Weiner to resign from the mayoral campaign "for the good of the city," in particular from Mr. de Blasio's political operatives.

But Mr. de Blasio is not applying that same standard to Ms. Smith.

A year ago, the reporter Hunter Walker wrote an "exposé" of Mr. de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, who formerly identified as a lesbian in her youth, a time when she also experimented with marijuana.

Even though Mr. Walker was confronted by LGBT activists over his sensational story, he today alluded to possible political motivations would drive the media to attack the sexual proclivities of Ms. Smith, a motivation he never acknowledged about his own article on Ms. McCray. Essentially, all these stories that violate a person's privacy, whether the subject is a politician's wife, his daughter, his spokesperson, or his challengers, call for sensibilities that at the very minimum put into perspective the timing and relevancy of such stories, to at least minimize the sensationalism and to maximize the benefit to the public, if that is the "real motivation" behind these kinds of stories.

Mr. Walker may not have been entirely motivated by malice, perhaps it was only a lack of awareness of his heterosexism. Maybe after LGBT activists confronted him, he may have become aware of the heterosexism bias. There are ways to bring about cultural competency, but when politics is the backdrop, it's difficult to exactly gauge motivations.

Meanwhile, reaction to a controversial column by Andrea Peyser in The New York Post triggered a passionate defense of Ms. Smith that didn't seem to exist for Mr. Weiner.

When former Democratic mayoral primary candidate Christine Quinn confessed to her problems with bulimia and alcoholism, there was a reaction by some to what seemed like a blatant press manipulation play for sympathy by the Quinn campaign.

But when earlier today, the de Blasio campaign put out a video featuring Chiara de Blasio recounting the story of her recovery from depression, alcoholism, and drug abuse, the de Blasio campaign were fully dumping on the public's lap very private details about Miss de Blasio's life.

The contrast between Mr. de Blasio's treatment of his spokesperson and his daughter reveals that when the campaign can milk sympathy from the media, there is no such thing as a right to privacy.

The contrast between the Mr. de Blasio's treatment of his spokesperson and Mr. Weiner reveals that when you can score political points, there is no such thing as a right to privacy.

The contrast between the political response to Ms. Quinn's recovery and Miss de Blasio's recovery reveals that not everybody recovering from addiction will get sympathy.

And the contrasts between Mr. Walker's aggressive treatment of Ms. McCray, the press's hands-off approach to Miss de Blasio's addictions, and an emerging narrative of manipulation in Miss de Blasio's revelations, reveal that the de Blasio family may now be pressuring the media in order to give its own spin to thorny issues.

One troubling aspect with all these stories is that leaders can truly have a positive impact on others, when they take to the news or talk shows to discuss social problems. Ms. Quinn had an undoubtedly positive impact in talking about bulimia and alcoholism that may have changed the course of some peoples lives -- for the better. As Miss de Blasio might have done, as well.

However, it's the situational ethics that lead politicians to scheme and manipulate either political attacks or pleas for sympathy -- each for their own benefit -- that discredit these kinds of stories.

Was the de Blasio camp trying to distract the media from another story by dropping Miss de Blasio's recovery story on Christmas Eve ? One may never know.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Other Woman : Will the Media Give Lis Smith the Weiner Treatment ?

Bill de Blasio's campaign once asked Anthony Weiner to drop out of the mayoral race because of his sex-capades.

Political insiders were all atwitter today, commenting on a shocking The New York Post story reporting that mayor-elect Bill de Blasio's spokesperson, Lis Smith, was having an adulterous love affair with the still married, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

Given revelations of her adulterous love affair with a married politician, to what standard will de Blasio's spokesperson, Lis Smith, be held ? Will she be given the Weiner treatment ?

When former Rep. Anthony Weiner was campaigning for the Democratic mayoral primary, he was berated for his sexcapades. Even the de Blasio campaign issued public denunciations of the Weiner campaign. In strong contrast, some insiders took to Twitter today to try to insulate Ms. Smith from criticism.

Whilst others were comparing Ms. Smith with a prostitute.

News only broke about their adulterous relationship last night. It is too soon to know whether the de Blasio administration will condemn Ms. Smith's controversial relationship with Mr. Spitzer, which some are describing on Facebook as between "consenting adults." This is in stark contrast with how the de Blasio Democratic mayoral primary campaign treated Mr. Weiner.

See also : "Bill de Blasio Calls on Anthony Weiner to Exit Mayoral Race" (Politicker)

Are married men having adulterous affairs treated according to one standard, but women, who are the "other woman," treated according to another ?

If the media is forgiving and accepting of Ms. Smith playing the role of the "other woman," does that mean that they were wrong for the tabloid trash talk against Mr. Weiner ?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

This Week In Bill de Blasio Conflicts of Interest : Rafael Cestero

Bill de Blasio transition advisor may be creating conflict of interest : The New York Daily News

Dick Dadey, a Christine Quinn loyalist who never confronted Quinn's administration of the City Council over corruption, is now coming forward to charge that the incoming de Blasio administration is guilty of more conflicts of interest.

The affordable housing developer Rafael Cestero is vetting possible agency heads for the New York City Housing Authority and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, The New York Daily News is reporting, adding that, "Cestero's role creates the possibility that one day he might be lobbying or doing business with the appointees he's helped to select, creating a conflict of interest, experts said."

However, Cestero's role has been being hidden from voters and the media, and in the opaque shadows of developers and lobbyists controlling government leadership positions, the only thing that can result is corruption.

If the de Blasio administration doesn't do something to stop all these conflicts of interest, maybe we just have to wait for Cestero to rig development deals with NYCHA and NYCHPD, resulting in the kind of embarrassing scandals that will perhaps lead to reforms in how the mayor-elect will choose his deputies ?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Bill de Blasio Prods City Council to Elect Puppet as Speaker

de Blasio once criticised Quinn for enabling Bloomberg, but now de Blasio wants an enabling Council speaker of his very own.

Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito said on Wednesday that she had lined up enough support to win the speaker's post, thanks to the intervention of mayor-elect Bill de Blasio.

Checks and balances are for stooges.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Bill Bratton Bill de Blasio Stop-and-Frisk Protest at The Nation Gala

Activists Protest Outside The Nation Magazine Gala, Honoring Bill de Blasio, Who The Nation Had Endorsed. Now, de Blasio Was Rewarding Them By Appearing At Their Gala In Exchange.

Protest against Bill Bratton's record on Stop-And-Frisk and against Bill de Blasio for picking him as NYPD commish ; at The Nation Magazine Gala at the Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, NYC.

Bill Bratton is the architect of Stop-And-Frisk, a police policy that has been shown to be a state-sponsored program of racism that targets minorities.

Watch as activists jeer former NYC Public Advocate Mark Green, former TV talkshow host Phil Donahue, former GMHC CEO Ana Oliveira, Manhattan Borough President-elect Gail Brewer, and The Daily Show contributor Lewis Black for standing by Bill de Blasio's pick of Bratton as NYPD commish. Bill de Blasio, and possibly Bill Bratton, snuck in through the freight entrance at the back of the building, avoiding protesters. They used an FDNY practice exercise as a decoy to close West 19th Street from some activists.

This was a private event, but yet there was Bill de Blasio abusing his authority over NYPD and FDNY to use public resources for a private event -- a similar complaint that reform activists used to have about Christine Quinn. This is not change ; rather, this is more of the same.

de Blasio misused FDNY resources by deploying a fake emergency practise exercise at the back of the building, where activists were protesting last night.

Was the FDNY decoy exercise deliberately planned to interfere with last night's protest ?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Likely Course of de Blasio Mayoralty

Friday, December 6, 2013

Did Bill de Blasio put up his son Dante to lie to voters about ending the "stop-and-frisk era" ?

WATCH ON DROPBOX : Bill de Blasio Bill Bratton Stop and Frisk Hypocrisy

Did Bill de Blasio put up his son Dante to lie to voters about ending the stop-and-frisk era ?

After Bill de Blasio barely won the Democratic primary with about 40 percent of the vote, top aide to Christine Quinn complained about a controversial TV advertisement broadcast by the de Blasio campaign, featuring his son, Dante.

"That ad killed us," the Quinn aide groused, anonymously, to The Daily Beast.

“He’s the only Democrat with the guts to really break from the Bloomberg years,” Dante promised in the TV commercial, adding, "And he is the only one who will end a stop-and-frisk era that unfairly targets people of color."


The controversial de Blasio campaign ad featuring his son, Dante, was widely reported to be one factor that helped his campaign surge following the implosions of the Quinn and Anthony Weiner campaigns. But now that de Blasio has appointed Bill Bratton to become the next NYPD commish, critics question the promises made by de Blasio -- and his son -- that de Blasio would end the "stop-and-frisk era."

Bratton shot up to fame by driving down crime based on his "reliance on 'stop-and-frisk,' in which officers detain individuals they deem to be suspicious and search them for guns, and which has been linked to racial profiling by critics," reported KQED News.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Bill de Blasio Marches In Veterans Day Parade With OWS Nemesis ; What Political Mandate ?

Mitch Rudin, president and CEO of U.S. commercial operations at Brookfield Office Properties, evicted Occupy Wall Street from Zuccotti Park.

For several blocks, New York City mayor-elect Bill de Blasio marched in today's Veterans Day Parade alongside Mitch Rudin, the US CEO for Brookfield Properties. Brookfield Properties was the landlord over Zuccotti Park, which had been the site of the Occupy Wall Street encampment, before Brookfield asked Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the NYPD to evict the protesters.

Mr. de Blasio campaigned for mayor on a platform that supported Occupy Wall Street sensibilities, but the de Blasio campaign has not addressed the apparent contradiction of the mayor-elect embracing Mr. Rudin when so many Occupy activists were under the impression that Mr. de Blasio was a sympathizer.

Voter Turn-Out Was 22% : What political mandate ?

The media keeps describing Mr. de Blasio's win as a "landslide," yet his effective voting tally expressed as a percent of total registered voters is actually lower than 20%. Given how few registered voters made it to the polls on election day, how can the media spin such a low participation rate to equal a political mandate ?

What Political Mandate Does Bill de Blasio Have ? photo ScreenShot2013-11-11at190451_zps6a67f95c.png
Newsday’s Dan Janison notes the paltry turnout numbers in last week’s general election, running counter to the narrative of a “popular uprising” for de Blasio.
(Voter turnout disappointing in Tuesday's elections : New York Newsday)
Turnout in Tuesday’s election for New York City mayor appeared to have set a record low of 24 percent of registered voters.
(New York: Voter Turnout Appears to Be Record Low * The New York Times)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Corrupt Campaign Finance and Lobbyist Scandals in de Blasio and Cuomo administrations

Bags of Cash : Political Corruption and Lobbyists in NYC, NYS

Real estate developers, gambling interests, and lobbyists corrupt New York City and New York State politics. In this YouTube video, questions are raised about why the super-majority of liberal and progressive politicians in New York are unable to propose and enact real campaign finance and lobbyist reforms. Are Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and Prosecutor Kathleen Rice more interested in milking big business interests and lobbyists of campaign donations to dare to reform the broken political system ?

Stay tuned ....

Monday, October 28, 2013

Real estate interests continue to open checkbooks for Bill de Blasio

Corruptive Influence of Money in de Blasio campaign


de Blasio Uses Campaign Loophole Developers Have ‘Bought’ de Blasio
Bill de Blasio has taken advantage of a campaign finance loophole that allows unions not representing municipal workers to contribute without limit, accepting contributions from unions across the country thanks to a bill he helped pass. (Bill de Blasio reaps union donations thanks to campaign finance loophole * The New York Post) At a press conference by the new Barclay’s arena, Joe Lhota accused Bill de Blasio of trading his silence on affordable housing in the controversial Atlantic Yards development exchange for developers’s campaign contributions. (Lhota Says Developers Have ‘Bought’ de Blasio’s Silence on Atlantic Yards * The New York Observer)
Dark Pool Politics - Lobbyists, Meetings, and Backroom Deals are Hidden - Bill de Blasio photo DarkRoomPoliticsSlideExport_zps8f346168.jpg

Money in Politics. Despite Mr. de Blasio's claims that he was the true progressive in this year's mayoral Democratic primary, he's certainly embraced the role of money and lobbyists in electoral politics, an apparent contradiction of core progressive values. A spot financed by a pro-Bill de Blasio “super PAC” in the New York mayoral race charges that Joseph J. Lhota wants to help big corporations and developers. The campaign commercial will be broadcast in a $1 million media buy could be used by Mr. Lhota to suggest that Mr. de Blasio, who has spoken out against super PACs, is acting hypocritically by not renouncing their support. (The Ad Campaign : Group Backing de Blasio Tries to Shackle Lhota to Tea Party * The New York Times)

Real estate opens checkbook for de Blasio ;
de Blasio's reformer credibility in doubt

From Crains :

Several real estate heavyweights­ as well as a few luminaries from the tech world­are ponying up big-time for Bill de Blasio, as the Democratic front-runner for mayor nears the finish line in what is shaping up to be a historic blowout of an election.

John Arillaga, one of the largest landowners in Silicon Valley, donated the maximum amount of $4,950 to Mr. de Blasio on Oct. 26, newly released records show. Mr. Arillaga's $151 million donation to Stanford University last July is said to be the largest gift ever given from a living donor. He is estimated to be worth $1.8 billion.

Mr. de Blasio also received a maximum donation from hotelier Ian Schrager, the co-founder of the legendarily hedonistic Studio 54. Mr. Schrager is often credited with co-creating the "boutique hotel" category of accommodation, typified by the Hudson Hotel on West 58th Street.

Raphael De Niro, son of the famous actor and head of the "De Niro Team" at real estate powerhouse Douglas Elliman, also maxed out to the Democratic frontrunner. Leonard Steinberg, who leads the firm's luxury real estate team, and Darren Sukenik, a downtown broker at Douglas Elliman, have contributed as well. (Mr. de Blasio has railed against "luxury condos" being built at the expense of affordable housing.)

Other real estate big shots to throw their support to Mr. de Blasio include Ken Colao, president of CNY Builders; Karen Heyman, a top real estate agent with Sotheby's; Aaron Jungreis, founder of Rosewood Realty Group; and Kyle Blackmon, a successful broker with Brown Harris Stevens.

Reid Hoffman, a venture capitalist and founder of LinkedIn, a social network for businesses, also chipped in the maximum amount.

Real estate has long been a supporter of Mr. de Blasio, who despite his populist rhetoric has treated the industry practically, even voicing support for projects that are deeply controversial in their communities, including Atlantic Yards.

With a de Blasio victory over Republican Joseph Lhota on Tuesday looking all but inevitable, many in the real estate world are trying to get in while the getting is good. But several real estate insiders wondered whether the donations were too late in the game to matter to the candidate, who has drawn the ire from some in the industry from his positions on affordable housing, taxes and city subsidies.

"Somewhere in de Blasio's camp, someone is keeping tabs on who gave what and when," one real estate source said. "And there is no chance whatsoever that money now is worth what money was in June when he was at 10% in the polls. That certainly applies to the late-arriving unions, as well businesses and some real estate. The real winners are the early endorsers and early donors. Buying de Blasio stock at its 52-week high isn't going to produce a bonanza of goodwill."

Another real estate insider agreed.

"He's going to be the mayor whether they like him or not," the insider said. "A third wants bragging rights that they supported him, a third thinks it's an insurance policy against him coming after them and a third thinks it gives them the ability to call him up and yell at him."

Last week, Mr. de Blasio reported almost $50,000 in donations in a single day. On Oct. 26, he raked in over $33,000. His Republican opponent, Mr. Lhota, has trailed in both fundraising and the polls.

Mr. de Blasio has denied (as all politicians do) being influenced by campaign donations.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Meet The De Blasios ; Or, Meet The Old, Inept Press ?

The Media Takes No Responsibility to Inform and No Shame For Failure to Do So ...

Now that the political realities, or impossibilities, are emerging for the expected next mayor, Bill de Blasio, the media is panicking about how little they were caught unawares of Mr. de Blasio's impending win. Like True News From Change has been pointing out, it was the media's job to vet Mr. de Blasio, and now, as the media worries about how Mr. de Blasio plans to translate his positions into actual government policy, the media forgets that it was they themselves, who gave Mr. de Blasio as pass during the primary election season.

"So which is Bill de Blasio, Sandinista or Clintonista, radical or clubhouse regular ? It’s a good question, particularly considering how vague he has been about so many things as a mayoral candidate." (Daily News Op-Ed via True News From Change)

... But Sal Albanese Calls Media Out

How the Media Lost the Race for Mayor. Bill de Blasio won the Democratic primary. Sal Albanese did not. But thanks to poor coverage of the race, the former councilman argues, New York's voters are the real losers.

No doubt, Mr. de Blasio has won the hearts of New Yorkers. If he lives up to expectations, I believe that he could make the five boroughs better for all of us. But "ifs" and "coulds" don't pick up the garbage or keep the city safe. We would be much better off if we knew what our next mayor had accomplished and really plans to do over the next four years. Unfortunately, the fourth estate has failed to provide that information.

Elections have consequences, and so does the way that we cover them. For the sake of our city's future, we must demand better. (Sal Albanese * City Limits)

Dark Pool Politics - Lobbyists, Meetings, and Backroom Deals are Hidden - Bill de Blasio photo DarkRoomPoliticsSlideExport_zps8f346168.jpg

Money in Politics. Despite Mr. de Blasio's claims that he was the true progressive in this year's mayoral Democratic primary, he's certainly embraced the role of money and lobbyists in electoral politics, an apparent contradiction of core progressive values. A spot financed by a pro-Bill de Blasio “super PAC” in the New York mayoral race charges that Joseph J. Lhota wants to help big corporations and developers. The campaign commercial will be broadcast in a $1 million media buy could be used by Mr. Lhota to suggest that Mr. de Blasio, who has spoken out against super PACs, is acting hypocritically by not renouncing their support. (The Ad Campaign : Group Backing de Blasio Tries to Shackle Lhota to Tea Party * The New York Times)

All fluff and no substance. New York magazine is looking forward to the de Blasio family's holiday card. But then what ?

Hospitals Still Face Chopping Block, Employees Keep Receiving Layoff Notices

Long Island College Hospital issued layoff notices to some 500 employees, effective Oct. 29. The majority of the workers are members of 1199 SEIU Healthcare Workers East and the New York State Nurses Association. (Brooklyn Hospital Lays Off 500 * Crain's) Gov. Cuomo proposes to close three Brooklyn hospitals and replace them with a new hospital at an estimated cost of $1 billion. (New Brooklyn hospital proposed ; cost $1 billion ; would replace 3 existing hospitals * Crains)

Let Them Eat Cheesecake : Buying Creamy Pies While 500 LICH Employees Receive Layoff Notices

St. Vincent's Hospital. Healthcare activists are trying to pressure NBC 4, the host of the next mayoral debate, to ask hospital-related questions of the mayoral candidates. What do the candidates plan to do to save all of New York City's community hospitals ? Do the candidates have plans to replace the full-service hospitals that were closed under the Bloomberg-Quinn administration ?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Emerging Conservatism of Bill de Blasio

News Roundup : Is Bill de Blasio turning his back on his progressive sensibilities ?

In the last week, lobbyists helped to bundle and raise huge amounts of campaign donations for New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, even though he enjoys an extraordinary lead in opinion polls.

Mr. de Blasio is leading Joe Lhota by 44 points -- 68 to 24 percent -- among likely voters, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll (Poll : Bill de Blasio Still Dominating Mayoral Race * Politicker).

In spite of this dominance, Mr. de Blasio has been noticeably been edging to the political center, according to the view of some, and to the right-of-center, according to the views of others.

During Tuesday's "heated mayoral debate," Republican candidate Joe Lhota attacked the Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio "for not doing enough to get affordable housing built at Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project," The Real Deal reported, which included Mr. Lhota's accusation that Mr. de Blasio betrayed the promises he made to force the developer of the Atlantic Yards project to build affordable housing.

“The reality is, Bill de Blasio makes promises over and over that he can’t keep,” Lhota said during the debate, and referred to Bill de Blasio’s support of Forest City’s massive Atlantic Yards project, according to watchdog blog Atlantic Yards Report. “Well, it’s been two years now since the Barclays Center has opened, and they’re not even in the ground with affordable housing,” Lhota said. He suggested that de Blasio was lenient with developer Bruce Ratner because Ratner is a supporter of the candidate and a frequent contributor to his campaign.

Moreover, the host committee of Mr. de Blasio's million-dollar Monday-night fundraiser with Hillary Clinton, for example, read like a who's who of big-league city lobbyists -- and it's drawing fire from his GOP opponent.

"Post-primary shifts may come naturally in any election," reports The New York Times, noting that the "modulations of Mr. de Blasio, a veteran political operator, are more akin to the sanding-down of edges than full-fledged flip-flops." So, The NYTimes is still hesitating from calling Mr. de Blasio out for his sharp turn to the right after barely winning the Democratic primary with slightly over 40% of the vote. Michael Powell's take-away from the second mayoral debate was that Mr. de Blasio is not a fake. "But as his day approaches, his footsteps toward power are worth measuring," Mr. Powell wrote, speaking in half-truths about Mr. de Blasio's conservatism since the Democratic primary.

Bill de Blasio and the faux new urban populism

"Does de Blasio’s ascent suggest that the country is moving in a decisively liberal direction ?" asked the Columbia University journalism professor and The New York Times op-ed contributing writer, Thomas Edsall. Mr. Edsall cites these alarming statistics :

In New York, according to an April 2013 report by the city’s Center for Economic Opportunity, graphically presented in Figure 1, 45.8 percent of the city’s population lives in poverty (an annual income of $30,994 or less for a four-person family) or at “near poverty” (from $30,995 to $46,416 for a family of four).

How will Mr. de Blasio make a dent in the number of New Yorkers living in poverty, if he already seems to have steered right or right-of-center in his politics since the Democratic primary ? Moreover, there is growing speculation that Mr. de Blasio is supporting the selection of a conservative City Council Speaker, who will act to tame the City Council from taking action on voters' demands for reforms.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

James Capalino, Other Lobbyists Lined Up To Help Host Million-Dollar Bill de Blasio/Hillary Clinton Fundraiser

James Capalino, Other Lobbyists Lined Up To Help Host Million-Dollar Bill de Blasio/Hillary Clinton Fundraiser

From Daily News Daily Politics :

The host committee of Bill de Blasio's million-dollar Monday-night fundraiser with Hillary Clinton read like a who's who of big-league city lobbyists -- and it's drawing fire from his GOP foe in the mayor's race.

"The level of Bill de Blasio's hypocrisy is alarming. He takes cash from developers and special interests while telling New Yorkers he supports something different," Jessica Proud, a spokeswoman for Republican nominee Joe Lhota, told the Daily News. "I don't think anyone can trust who the real Bill de Blasio is when he always tries to play both sides."

De Blasio spokesman Dan Levitan declined comment on both Proud's comments or the number of lobbyists involved in the cash bash.

Among those on the host committee for the Roosevelt Hotel soiree : James Capalino, who in the past lobbied for Rudin Management, which is developing high-end condos near the site of the shuttered St. Vincent's Hospital, and A-list lobbyist Suri Kasirer, who has met with de Blasio on Atlantic Yards project.

Kasirer characterized her role in the fundraiser as more about old friendships than pending business.

"It was kind of like Old Home Week," said Kasirer, who said her 25-year friendship with the mayoral frontrunner goes back to the administration of former Mayor David Dinkins and continued through and past Clinton's 2000 run for the Senate.

While Kasirer says she's closely watching issues that may extend into the next administration, such as Midtown East rezoning, she painted the evening as "a way for a lot of New Yorkers to give a boost to Hillary and let her know that we were eagerly waiting for her decision and want her to run [for president]...

"I think for me it was less about lobbying than it was about sort of longtime relationships."

Capalino didn't immediately return a call about the fundraiser.

Fordham University's Costas Panagopoulos said the list wasn't surprising given that given that "money follows power and special interests can read the polls just as well as anyone else can," and that de Blasio and many of his backers are "established politicians with access to lobbyists and other donors" happy to help raise cash for a man who may make decisions critical to their clients.

The political science prof also said there is of course the issue of "whether someone who's been elected partly as a result of having attracted considerable financial support is subsequently beholden to those interests" if he or she wins.

"We'd like to think that kind of quid pro quo -- or some would go so far as to call it corruption -- doesn't exist, but it's a legitimate question," he said. "Answering this question will require vigilance and surveillance if [de Blasio is] elected."

Others on the lengthy host committee list included Stan Natapoff and Alexandra Stanton of Empire Global Ventures; Rachel Amar of Waste Management Of New York; and Michael Woloz of Connelly McLaughlin & Woloz.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bill de Blasio : moving back and forth on core progressive issues

 photo bill-de-blasio-flip-flop-frown_zps8edec15a.jpg

Bill de Blasio says that the NYPD are doing an “Incredible Job” -- even though the NYPD have been on a spree of brutality, stop-and-frisk, and other violations of privacy, civil liberties, and other civil rights.

From True News From Change :

A mayoral candidate said Friday he thinks the NYPD is “the best-trained police force on earth” — and praised its accomplishments under Mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg. He also lauded the “incredible job” it’s done to bolster safety. But the candidate wasn’t Republican Joe Lhota. It was Democrat Bill de Blasio, who spent months blasting the Police Department and Commissioner Ray Kelly over the stop-and-frisk strategy. On Friday, he became the ­department’s biggest booster. * Bill de Blasio flip-flop : NYPD doing great (NYP)

Bill de Blasio’s habit of siding with labor against everyone else is legendary, but one of the best examples of that can be seen in his support for a cap on political donations from Joe and Jane New Yorker — but not unions. * Bill de Blasio backtracks on campaign finance reform (NYP ED)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sal Albanese Withholds Endorsement From Bill de Blasio In Mayor's Race

Bill de Blasio Christine Quinn Sal Albanese photo QuinnDeBlasioAlbanese-e1376489466666_zps438ad218.jpg

From Capital New York :

Sal Albanese explains his non-endorsement of Bill de Blasio

Last week, Anthony Weiner became one of the last former Democratic candidates for mayor to endorse Bill de Blasio for mayor, joining Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson and John Liu in backing the winner of their primary.

Not joining them: Bay Ridge Democrat Sal Albanese, the former councilman who ran an iconoclastic campaign for mayor based on the belief that his principles and experience would win the day.

Albanese thinks that sort of "knee-jerk endorsement" is merely evidence that the endorsers in question are part of the "party apparatus."

"I don't want people saying to me, a year down the road, 'you supported this guy,'" he told Capital on Friday afternoon. "I want to make sure he's really committed to doing the right thing."

In 1997, then-councilman Albanese ran for mayor on a "tale of two cities" platform and won 21 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary. This year, he earned less than one percent. During the campaign, he publicly yearned for an election cycle with a little less "bullshit," and frequently targed de Blasio with his criticism.

So as far as the prospect of endorsing de Blasio is concerned, Albanese isn't quite there yet.

"Well, first of all, I'm concerned about his general saying one thing and doing another," he said, adding, "I think he's a very, very smart political operative, but I have concerns about his ability to lead the city."

Albanese points, by way of example, to de Blasio's early-in-the-campaign claim to be the outer-borough candidate.

"When he was running on that mantra ... he was undermining the expansion of taxi service to the outer boroughs," said Albanese, referring to de Blasio's energetic opposition to the Bloomberg administration's outer-borough taxi plan and his collection of more than $250,000 from industry donors. "Just recently he went before a business group and said he was a fiscal conservative, when he's promoting higher taxes for city residents. ... So my point is, I am a big believer in having a mayor who his word or her word counts for something."

Also, Albanese thinks de Blasio is "naive about public safety" and has "the thinnest resume of any mayor in recent memory."

De Blasio, who for the record has not asked for Albanese's endorsement, had no comment for this article.

Also for the record, Albanese doesn't plan to endorse Joe Lhota, the Republican candidate, either.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Bill de Blasio already owned by REBNY. That was fast.

Real estate group doesn't fear de Blasio, won't spend for Lhota 
11:48 am Oct. 10, 2013

Bill de Blasio's tough talk on real estate during the Democratic primary isn't helping Joe Lhota with deep-pocketed developers.
The president of the powerful Real Estate Board of New York, which spent $4.9 million on its preferred City Council candidates this cycle, said recently the board doesn't intend to do a similar independent expenditure to support Lhota in the general election.

"There clearly are no plans and not even any discussion about any campaigning on behalf of anybody for mayor," said Steven Spinola, the REBNY president, in an interview.

Spinola, a close ally of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, shrugged off de Blasio's rhetoric during the competitive Democratic primary, when the public advocate painted rival Christine Quinn as a tool of the real-estate industry and called the mayor's pro-development approach " incredibly counterproductive."

"People say a lot of things in the campaign," Spinola said. "We go through campaigns all the time."

"I know Bill de Blasio," Spinola added. "He's not somebody that there's any reason for us to be frightened of. We've worked with him. We have no reason to believe he won't work with us."

Spinola said de Blasio's camp always stayed in contact with REBNY members, even as the candidate promised to "drive the hardest bargain possible" for developers to include affordable housing in new projects.

"I've heard it before and we don't mind a hard bargain," Spinola said.

De Blasio has taken a much more pragmatic approach to development than his primary rhetoric might suggest, and while one source in the real-estate industry said de Blasio was not REBNY's preferred candidate, the board opted to sit out the divisive primary.

De Blasio spokesman Dan Levitan declined comment for this article.

REBNY's decision is another financial blow for Lhota, who has struggled to convince some of his own donors that he's capable of overcoming de Blasio's 50-point lead in public polls.

De Blasio raised more than twice as much as Lhota in the most recent fund-raising period, and Capital reported this week that a coalition of local unions is planning to spend $2 million in support of de Blasio's campaign.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Scott Levenson NY-CLASS ABQ WFP Timeline to Benefit Bill de Blasio ?

When did Scott Levenson decide to launch an attack on Christine Quinn that would benefit Bill de Blasio ?

  • 2008 : Christine Quinn overturned term limits, upsetting the progressive sensibilities of her constituency.
  • 2009 : Civil rights attorney Yetta Kurland nearly defeated Christine Quinn in the Democratic Party primary for third City Council district.
  • 2009 : Bill de Blasio's campaign used political consulting firm Data & Field Services, which operated out of the same office of the labor-backed Working Families Party. Scrutiny into whether the firm was undercharging WFP-backed candidates for campaign services led to a federal investigation (which eventually cleared the party) and a lawsuit that led to the consulting firm's dissolution under a settlement (City & State).
  • 2010 : St. Vincent's Hospital is closed, touching off a new round of grassroots organising against Christine Quinn.
  • 2011 : Billionaire derivatives trader George Soros funneled $400,000 to the Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending, or CAPS, an entity launched by Bill de Blasio, through Soros's nonprofit entity, the Open Society Institute (City & State).
  • 2011 : NYCLASS stops using The Parkside Group for political operative consulting services and, in their place, NYCLASS hires The Advance Group.
  • 2011 : Bill de Blasio's close ties to municipal unions and the Working Families Party didn't dissuaded real estate developers from corrupting de Blasio's alleged progressive roots (Queens Crap).
  • 2011 : Scott Levenson has close ties to the Working Families Party (City & State)
  • 2013 : The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) launches a Super PAC (NYTimes).
  • 2013 : Scott Levenson and The Advance Group manage the independent expenditures for several groups (Crain's Insider).
  • 2013 : The prominent Manhattan political consulting firm, the Advance Group, appears to have worked both sides of two City Council races in Brooklyn last month. The practice is legal but some political insiders view it as a conflict of interest. (Firm sent mailers touting its clients' opponents * Crains Insider)
  • 2013 : Organized labor group plots big election spending (Crain's Insider).
  • 2013 : A super PAC formed by the powerful city teachers' union paid more than $370,000 to an apparently fictitious political consulting firm, which was actually the well-known New York firm the Advance Group, records and interviews show (Crain's Insider).
  • 2013 : Top Bill de Blasio supporters funded the NYCLASS #ABQ campaign (Crain's Insider).
  • 2013 : Nearly a third of the $1.1 million spent on a highly publicized campaign to defeat mayoral frontrunner Christine Quinn came from donations above the legal limits imposed by the New York election law, records and interviews show. (Anti-Quinn group got $320K above legal limit * Crain's Insider)
  • 2013 : Bill de Blasio and key allies illegally operated a Super PAC that spent more than $1 million attacking Christine Quinn in the Democratic primary race for mayor. (Bill de Blasio accused of coordinating with anti-Quinn Super PAC * The New York Post)
  • 2013 : Communication Workers of America, District 1 endorses Bill de Blasio (Bill de Blasio picks up endorsement of Communications Workers of America * The New York Daily News) ; Communication Workers of America Local 1180 was a client of The Advance Group (Bill Would Bar Political Consultants From Also Lobbying * The New York Daily News)
  • 2013 : Special prosecutor Roger Adler told The New York Daily News that he expects to convene a grand jury shortly after Veterans Day as part of his probe into allegations that the Working Families Party illegally gave candidates below-cost campaign-related services in 2009. (Grand jury will eye Working Families Party leaders : Special prosecutor * The New York Daily News)
  • 2013 : Who is paying The Advance Group for Their Assistance To Melissa Mark-Viverito in Speaker's Race ? (Politicker)
  • One of Bill de Blasio's most supportive union backers helped bankroll a campaign opposing one-time front-runner Christine Quinn during the mayoral primary, according to union and campaign finance records. (How A Pro-de Blasio Union Funded An Anti-Quinn Group * Capital New York)
  • 2013 : To reward NY-CLASS for apparently coordinating their work, the de Blasio campaign will help to replenish the super PAC's funds with a special fundraiser featuring Mr. de Blasio himself. (Crains Insider)

2013-09-30 NYCLASS - NYC Lobbyist Client Search Result by Connaissable

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Radicalism of Bill de Blasio

ACORN, for example, represents an interesting point of connection between Obama’s radical past and de Blasio. ACORN exercised substantial de facto control over the leftist New Party. Former ACORN head Bertha Lewis has close ties to de Blasio and has predicted a comeback for ACORN’s successor group under a de Blasio administration. Patrick Gaspard, a former New Party staffer with close ties to ACORN is not only a former Obama White House Political Director, but is one of de Blasio’s closest friends, and played a central role in shaping de Blasio’s campaign for the Democratic mayoral nomination. ("The Radicalism of Bill de Blasio" By Stanley Kurtz, National Review)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

How committed is Bill de Blasio to adopting progressive reforms ?

Bill de Blasio and Land Use : Liberal Mayoral Candidate Would Continue Many of Bloomberg's -- and Quinn's -- Policies

In the weeks leading up to Christine Quinn's defeat in the Democratic primary election, it came to be known that one of the slimy Rudin lobbyists responsible for influencing the City Council to approve the controversial St. Vincent's luxury condo conversion plan had already found a way to get access to Bill de Blasio, the presumptive leading mayoral candidate. Hosted on Scribd is an e-mail about the controversial lobbyist, James Capalino, that was exchanged between Donny Moss and I.

After a couple of weeks of careful consideration, I have produced a new YouTube video about this e-mail exchange.

One major reason that activists organised to vote Quinn out of office was because of how she sold out the community in favor of her campaign contributors and powerful big business interests. Real estate developers have enjoyed great influence over city government, so much so that voters have had almost no way of participating in important community decisions. For example, voters desired saving the zoning on the St. Vincent's campus for a replacement hospital, but big business interests were able to ride roughshod over voters because of their use of lobbyists and the outsized influence of campaign donations.

After the primary election, Bill de Blasio announced that he would not appear at fundraisers unless contributors could package together donations of at least $75,000. In addition to embracing lobbyists that helped Rudin privatise the former real estate of St. Vincent's, de Blasio was now embracing the out-sized influence of money in politics.

How could it be that activists, who carried the reform banner to organize and defeat Quinn in the mayoral primary, now turn the other way after de Blasio has now begun to adopt some the same tools of the broken political system as did Quinn ?

The concerns over who gets access to political candidates are serious. As some of you may know, when Andrew Cuomo was running for governor, some St. Vincent's activists approached his campaign people over the need for a hospital to replace St. Vincent's. Cuomo's campaign people told the St. Vincent's activists, "We'll see you after the election." After the election, what did Gov. Cuomo do ? Within days, he formed the Medicaid Redesign Team to continue the work of closing hospitals, and he appointed Stephen Berger to head the Brooklyn Working Group in an attempt to specifically close hospitals in Brooklyn. Similarly, some AIDS activists tried to reach out to the de Blasio campaign this year to determine if his campaign platform would include more ambitious goals to confront HIV/AIDS, but the AIDS activists were told by de Blasio's campaign people, "We'll see you after the election."

After all the community organizing, town halls, and protests in which activists have engaged to fight for a hospital to save St. Vincent's, just hearing the phrase, "We'll see you after the election," should activate a powerful recognition : that de Blasio means to make no public commitment to champion for the reforms that that many communities say they want to see brought about in the next mayoral administration.

Some activists, who participated in the movement to vote Quinn out of office, have been doing this work for over 22 years -- from the time when Quinn first arrived in the political scene in New York. It becomes too late to try to hold a politician accountable once the politician gets elected into office. Using Quinn as an example, she will have spent about 15 years in City Council spread out over 5 terms in office. During this time, in what direction has this city headed ? There was no way to hold her accountable during these 15 years, except to finally vote her out of office. That's the only way.

As challenging as it was to vote Quinn out of office, what lesson should we be drawing from this experience ? What wisdom is there to be had ? The reality is that Quinn was just a symptom of a broken political system. The root causes of the political system being broken still exist. In the last two years, our activism was influenced by important principles from the Occupy movement, and that is that inequality, corruption, and the undue influence of big business interests is what keeps our government broken and non-responsive to voters' needs. Knowing all that we know, do we wait for politicians to max out on term limits before they should be held accountable to voters, or should politicians be held accountable even before they win an election and are sworn into office ?

It all comes down to what you think, because it was you, who was made voiceless under the Bloomberg-Quinn administration. Our immediate contribution to push back against the broken political system was to vote Quinn out of office, but based on the messages that de Blasio is telegraphing to the community, voting Quinn out is not enough to bring about reforms. Now that she will soon be gone, what else do you need to do to reclaim your government ?

Please think about this, because the movement to bring about reforms is not over, yet. The movement needs you to step forward, because not everybody is fighting for reforms, and compromises are being made that may not serve your best interests. The only way for you to make sure that your best interests are being served is for you to step up and speak out. Your voice and opinion counts. Make it be heard.