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)

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