I managed to get on the wrong bus on Cross Bay Boulevard. Figuring I’d save myself a few minutes in the rain, I jumped on at 157th Street, and hit the button to get off across from the Cross Bay Diner at 161st Street.
Ten minutes later I was at the foot of the Cross Bay Bridge, giving Chris Hoeppner -- the Socialist Workers Party candidate in the congressional race to replace Anthony Weiner -- bad directions. He finally found me, a half hour late and soaked.
I apologized for the rigmarole, but Hoeppner skipped quickly past the $3.25 in tolls he just paid, each way, on the bridge. We were on a tight schedule; he had a debate to attend.
“I grew up in Woodside,” Hoeppner said as we drove through the rain. “I’ve been involved in politics for 40 years.”
The windows fogged up — it was an older car with a barely working defroster — bringing visibility in the downpour to a dangerous low. Hoeppner didn’t seem to notice as he started firing away at the absurdness he sees in the race. His voice pinched emphatically as he broke down how “they”—the Democrats and Republicans—fail working people.
A new Siena Research Institute poll released today says 64 percent of New Yorkers polled felt the government was more of a problem than a solution when it comes to national economic concerns. According to the poll results, a weak plurality--39 percent--thought Democrats have a better understanding of what needs to be done economically. A stronger plurality--43 percent--trust Democrats to do the right thing to improve the economic situation.
The down feeling might also have had something to do with the people being asked: 45 percent of those polled said they were not employed. Still, neither party looks particularly good on the economy to voters right now.
“Republicans tend to think that their party understands what needs to be done to address the economy and they trust elected GOP’s more than Democrats to do the right thing. Democrats tend to say the same about members of their party. But over a third of independents and a full quarter of all New Yorkers now say that neither party understands our problems nor warrants their trust,” Dr. Don Levy, Siena Research Institute's director, said in a statement.
Republican Bob Turner and Democrat David Weprin are pulling out all sorts of endorsements as the campaign to replace Anthony Weiner in New York's 9th Congressional District.
Today US Senator Charles Schumer toured senior homes with Weprin, discussing the threat they say Turner poses to seniors.
"David has the values, the experience and the vision we need in Washington," Schumer was quoted saying in a statement. "We can count on David to fight against the Republican plan to gut Medicare and Social Security. We can count on David to fight for middle-class families in Brooklyn and Queens and to focus on getting people back to work."
Meanwhile Turner had arguably his biggest day of endorsements yet. Earlier he stood with former -- and over-before-it-started candidate for president -- Governor George Pataki, as the governor lent his endorsement.
"Our federal debt threatens the very future of America as we know it, and Bob Turner has the courage to do something about it," Pataki said in a statement. "He isn't just fighting to preserve Social Security and Medicare for our senior citizens, he's fighting to make sure those programs are there for our children and grandchildren. Bob Turner has the real-world business experience we need in Congress, and I strongly endorse him."
Turner also picked up the endorsement of the New York Post today. The Daily News had already backed Turner, meaning he's captured the lucrative tabloid endorsement market.
Perhaps most importantly -- though not surprisingly -- the Turner campaign announced Democratic Assemblyman Dov Hikind will give Turner his endorsement tomorrow. Hikind, who represents a heavily Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, has indicated he would not support his colleague in the assembly over, among other things, his vote for same-sex marriage.
It looks like Assembly hopeful Rafael Espinal's campaign is missing some of its paperwork. According to the New York State Board of Elections website, the Espinal campaign failed to file anything for the last two filings. The most recent filing was due 11 days before Election Day (so last week). Espinal's folks blew by the previous filing, due 32 days prior to Election Day.
An email to Espinal's campaign has been sent. Their response will be posted.
Meanwhile, the Towns and Gonzalez campaigns have filed, and here's where they stand heading into the final week:
Video of Foy being tackled by police can be seen below.
The day after being handcuffed and detained by the New York City Police Department, City Councilman Jumaane Williams and an aide to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Kirsten Foy, held a packed press conference outside of City Hall earlier today. Backed by at least a dozen elected officials, Williams stated bluntly race was what led to the incident—not an attack on a police officer, which the councilman called a lie.
“We do have to acknowledge that if I did not look the way I look—young, black, with [dread]locks and earrings, with another young black male—if we were elected officials of a different persuasion, we are sure things would have been handled differently,” Williams said.
Williams said the police commissioner assured him there would be an investigation of the incident. That didn’t stop speaker after speaker from drawing the connection between the incident yesterday and the police department’s stop-and-frisk policy.
Jesus Gonzalez pointed up at a colorful wall mural. Figures wield phones and video recorders on an unfinished scene depicting some sort of suspect police behavior. “What other elected official would have a social justice mural commissioned?” he asked.
He was using the future perfect tense; Gonzalez hasn’t been elected to anything yet. But he is running to be the next representative to the New York State Assembly from the 54th district in Brooklyn.
His achievements as a community organizer thread throughout the 26-year-old’s conversations. The mural was one notable landmark. Before that it was the high school he helped save from closing. That led him to last year’s fight to save student Metrocards from cuts, which he helped lead. Then there were the baggers at the Associated supermarket he helped organize for a better wage.
He is slim, handsome and intense. His vocal inflections and pace are borrowed from another community organizer, now President of the United State. But mingled in there is an almost religious passion that jives with his first name.
“I know, for me, this is really a spiritual commitment to this district,” he says not only about his campaign, but about the 13 years he says he’s put in as a social justice advocate. In a tight three-way race between Gonzalez and his two opponents, he is a true believer in a battle between the gospel of democratic justice against the evil of corrupt Democratic Party politics.
But the groups backing Gonzalez’s campaign have interests that run far deeper and further than the race for the 54th Assembly District. And in this way he is no different than his opponents: Rafael Espinal, the Democratic establishment pick, and Deidra Towns, daughter to Congressman Ed Towns and sister to the previous Assemblyman.
Make the Road By Walking, the Brooklyn Democratic reform movement, and the Working Families Party are gambling big to get Jesus Gonzalez in the Assembly, and may help remake Brooklyn Democratic politics in the process.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has sent an open letter to Mayor Bloomberg regarding his handling of former Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith's resignation, the public advocate's office announced earlier.
The full letter is after the jump. De Blasio is the latest in a series of public officials--and assumed 2013 mayoral contenders--to call on the mayor to
apologize and explain his actions surrounding Goldsmith's departure. He is the first to ask for a public apology.
By Karen DeWitt, WXXI Capitol Bureau Chief
Governor Andrew Cuomo has launched what he’s calling “Labor for your Neighbor”, an effort to organize New Yorkers who want to help flood victims clean up from the damage over the upcoming Labor Day weekend.
The governor says his staff will set up staging areas to ferry volunteers into flood ravaged regions in the Catskills, Schoharie, and Northern New York, to help with the hard work of cleaning up the mud and debris left from the storm.
The governor says what’s required is “old fashioned elbow grease, that is just a bucket and a mop and a rag and a broom and a shovel”.
The race in the 9th Congressional District in Queens becomes more acerbic by the day, as the campaigns enter the final two weeks of this special election. The campaign of Republican Bob Turner has reportedly accused his opponent, Democrat David Weprin, of spying on his campaign. This, shortly after a dismal fundraising report: Turner’s yield so far—$203,923—was less than half of Weprin’s reported $550,000.
Meanwhile, the Weprin campaign has sent an actual
clown magician out to mock Turner’s pledge to cut a third of the Federal budget while protecting Social Security and Medicare. Turner started clarifying earlier statements, and, in at least one interview, suggested these programs could be on the long-term chopping block.
Turner’s camp has continued its push of equating Weprin to President Obama. The move appears to be paying off, as Weprin’s statements keep moving further away from supporting the president or the big ticket items like health care reform.
The race is also moving further away from reality and relevance. Both campaigns are turning into spectacle machines. Neither gives voters much more than cardboard cutouts of their opponents, next to which their lackluster candidates look deceptively real.
Look at what’s NOT being talked about.
From the press announcement from the Democratic polling firm Global Strategy Group:
If the upcoming special election for Congress in New York’s Ninth District was held today, Democrat David Weprin would defeat Republican Bob Turner and hold the seat for his party, according to our latest poll of 400 likely special election voters in the district. The poll was conducted August 30-31, 2011 and has a margin of error of +/- 4.9%.
Weprin Leading and Nearing Majority Support
Democrat David Weprin currently leads Republican Bob Turner by an eight-point margin, 47% to 39%, with 14% still undecided in the special election contest.
Weprin Ahead Despite Being Less Known
Turner is familiar to 66% of voters in the district thanks to his previous run for the seat, with 40% rating him favorably and 26% unfavorably. Weprin is familiar to fewer voters (59%), with 35% rating him favorably and 24% unfavorably.
District Prefers Democrat as Representative
By a wide, 14-point margin, voters here prefer a generic Democratic candidate for Congress (46%) over a generic Republican candidate (32%).
This poll follows up from the Republican polling released yesterday that showed the race tied. National Democratic congressional spokesperson Josh Schwerin had this to say:
This poll confirms what we always knew, voters are rejecting Bob Turner’s radical agenda of cutting Medicare and Social Security and leaving 9/11 volunteers out in the cold, while protecting tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires.
By Karen DeWitt, WXXI Capitol Bureau Chief
State Insurance superintendent Benjamin Lawsky says is office has had reports that some New Yorkers flooded during Irene are being told by their insurance companies that their flood insurance does not cover damages. He says that is absolutely incorrect.
“If you have flood insurance it applies regardless of the cause of the flooding,” said Lawsky. “This is what insurance is all about. You pay these premiums year in and year out for when a disaster like this happens.”
Lawsky won’t speculate on whether the insurance adjusters are committing fraud or simply misinformed, but he says he intends to use every power of his office to go after companies found to be deliberately misleading policy holders.
The Superintendent says New Yorkers who feel they have been wrongly denied flood insurance payments should call the Insurance Department’s disaster hotline at 1-800-339-1759.
Democratic candidate David Weprin's campaign says his campaign anticipates reaching the $550,000 mark before the filing deadline tonight. They say that's more than three times what the Turner campaign has raised.
“Our message about protecting middle class families and fighting for Medicare and Social Security is clearly resonating with voters,” Weprin said in a statement. “I’m very grateful for this outpouring of financial support, which will help me bring this critical fight to Washington. I intend to ride this momentum all the way to victory on September 13th.”
By Alec Hamilton
John Gambling, the third in the Gambling family line of WOR morning hosts, introduced former governor David Paterson at a press conference today to announce the governors new role as a host of the afternoon drive show. At Ben Bensons steakhouse in Manhattan, the governor said he grew up listening to the radio.
The governor said because he never learned Braille, he has depended heavily through his life on radio for information.
"My information always came from the radio, so I've always had a special fondness for radio stations, for talk radio, for radio hosts, so to become one of them at this stage is a big thrill in my life," he said.
The governor said his first guest will be Eliot Spitzer.
"When I told him I had this show, he said its so great to see you could get a job that I didnt give you," said Paterson.
Other guests scheduled for the first show on Tuesday include former Police Commissioner Bill Bratton on Scotland Yard, a debate between 9th Congressional District candidates David Weprin and Bob Turner, and possibly Rep. Charlie Rangel. Paterson's father, Basil Paterson, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, a close friend of the former governor, were at the announcement earlier today.
The fallout has started surrounding today's revelation that a former deputy mayor under Bloomberg resigned after being arrested for domestic violence. And at the front of his media surf board is Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.
Stringer sent out a statement late this morning saying he was "deeply troubled by the news" that former Deputy Mayor for Operations Stephen Goldsmith had spent two nights in a Washington, DC jail after being arrested after a domestic dispute with his wife. Goldsmith resigned abruptly on August 4. The New York Post reported today that on July 30, Goldsmith had been arrested in Washington, DC, after his wife called the police. The incident, the Post said, was what led to Goldsmith's resignation--not his poor handling of the monster snow storm back in January, as had been the suspicion.
Speaking to the press earlier, Borough President Stringer called on the mayor to give an account of what happened, what the decision making process behind Goldsmith's resignation was, and why the incident wasn't disclosed to the public.
"We have a right to know the circumstances relating to his resignation," Stringer said. "If the resignation was a result of this arrest, then New Yorkers have the right to know that a high-ranking deputy mayor, in charge of oversight of the NYPD, was arrested under some very difficult circumstances."
Stringer was careful not to directly criticize the mayor's handling of the incident, saying that that his office wasn't "picking a fight with the mayor."
"I dont want to characterize the circumstances surrounding the mayor's thinking until i know what it was," Stringer said. "And then we'll go from there."
Marc LaVorgna, a spokesperson with the mayor's office, released the following statement: "We have nothing to add to Mrs. Goldsmith's account of the incident, but it was clear to the Mayor and Mr. Goldsmith that he could no longer serve at City Hall, regardless of his guilt or innocence."
By Karen DeWitt, WXXI Capitol Bureau Chief
Tom McGlynn stood on the main street of his flood-ravaged town, waiting for Governor Cuomo’s helicopter and the visit from the federal officials. The street bustled with National Guard troops, emergency medics, fire trucks and police. Dust from drying mud, gas fumes from fuel leaks, and the first wafts of rotting garbage filled the air.
McGlynn says he is still trying to process what happened, three days after the waters destroyed his home.
“There’s nothing left of it,” said McGlynn. “The whole first floor is gone, and a two-car garage with a room over it, that’s in my neighbors’ yard.”
McGlynn says he and his wife escaped with their lives.
“What I have on me is what I left,” McGlynn said. “It’s unbelievable”.
Governor Cuomo was thanking the Federal government for declaring counties in New York as disaster zones. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is doing the opposite, after Kings County was not included:
In Brooklyn, hundreds of trees were knocked down, doing significant damage to cars, homes and infrastructure, and some Brooklynites remain without power. Brooklyn’s low-lying ‘Zone A’ neighborhoods that were evacuated saw significant flooding, including Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Coney Island, Red Hook, DUMBO and Williamsburg. Just yesterday, it was discovered that a section of the BQE may be unstable as a result of storm damage and will need urgent repair. The storm even made landfall at Coney Island.
Given these facts, I am absolutely dumbfounded that federal officials have excluded Kings County from a disaster declaration for public assistance. I applaud Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg for requesting this help, and hope that FEMA immediately reverses this dreadful decision and includes Brooklyn.
Our sister site Transportation Nation has a great recap of Port Authority chief Chris Ward's speech to the New York Building Congress yesterday. Ward leveled heavy criticism at what he called "a darker strain in American politics" that has led to the dissolving of American infrastructure.
"No doubt, that strain ran through Gingrich’s Contract With America, Grover Norquist’s No Tax Pledge, and to the Tea Party of today. But the left is not without its responsibility; too often, we have seen rigid opposition to social and private sector market innovation," Ward said. "Today, we are truly seeing the consequences of that slow deterioration of that social contract."
As Ilya Marritz reports on Transportation Nation:
A week after being forced to accept a smaller revenue package than he wanted, the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey launched a full-throated broadside against politicians who say the government must reduce all spending.
Think about this: Would I rather be handcuffed to the emergency command center in Maspeth during a hurricane ... or would I rather spend some of that 30 Rock money traveling the world with my girlfriend?
- The Jewish Voice has endorsed Republican for Congress in the 9th District:
For New Yorkers in the 9th Congressional District, and for those who have grown restive over the intrusion of the "nanny state" in the affairs of their daily lives, the decision on September 13 couldn't be clearer. Political change is desperately needed and we, the people, are charged with chartering our own course, of becoming masters of our own fate, and captains of our own ship. Let's send a bold message to President Obama by electing Bob Turner to Congress and saying "no" to more of the same.
- The New York Times has endorsed his opponent, Democrat David Weprin:
When Representative Anthony Weiner resigned in disgrace in June, he left his diverse district without a voice in the House of Representatives. On Sept. 13, voters in that Queens and Brooklyn district can choose his replacement.
Their options — chosen, unfortunately, by the parties’ leaders instead of in open primaries — are Assemblyman David Weprin, a Democrat, and Bob Turner, a Republican and former communications executive. The choice is clear: Mr. Weprin would represent the district with far more expertise, sensitivity and fiscal rationality.
- So did the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association. PBA president Patrick J. Lynch:
We know we can trust David Weprin to fight to protect the Medicare and Social Security benefits working families rely on, and his background in finance and his service as the chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee will be of great value during these difficult financial times. David has been an effective and honest public servant who will represent us well in Congress. The New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association is proud to endorse David Weprin, a true friend of law enforcement, for the United States Congres .
- Assembly hopeful Jesus Gonzalez got a boost in his three-way race out in Brooklyn when the Albany-reform focused New Roosevelt Initiative endorsed him today. New Roosevelt's founder Bill Samuels:
Bosses love elections without opponents, but they’re bad for democracy and bad for New York. Residents of the 54th are lucky that a bright, dedicated reformer like Jesus Gonzalez, a Democrat who is running on the Working Families Party (WFP) line has stepped forward to challenge this autocracy. The system is broken, disgraceful and must be changed. I applaud the valiant efforts of Gonzalez and WFP in their continued efforts to reform Brooklyn politics by letting voters have a real choice and that is why I fully support Gonzalez’s candidacy.
- Another Assembly hopeful, Phil Goldfeder, announced United Federation of Teachers' President Michael Mulgrew will endorse his campaign tomorrow.
New Yorker's confidence in the economy is slipping, according to a poll released by the Siena Research Institute. Consumer confidence decreased 1.2 points in August, Siena found, even as buying plans for big-ticket items like homes and cars edged up.
"Right now the nation's future outlook is terrible. In New York we are more hopeful as our outlook rises to simply pessimistic. Still, despite the needle of sentiment pointing towards a double-dip recession, we may dodge that hurricane given an uptick in buying plans most especially for homes.”
We're doing better than the country as a whole, though, which fell to its lowest levels since 2008. The press release from Siena is after the jump.