Wednesday, March 07, 2012
By Fred Mogul : Reporter, WNYC News
A City Council survey released Wednesday showed 85 percent of restaurant owners say the letter grading system is "Poor" or "Fair." Less than 5 percent say it's "Very Good" or "Excellent."
Friday, February 17, 2012
Govern Andrew Cuomo:
I applaud both Mr. Dolan and Mr. Britt and their companies. I thank them for being responsive to the needs of New Yorkers.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (a little more emphatic):
Our office has worked diligently with Time Warner Cable and MSG Networks over the last month to bring about a resolution to their dispute. We are pleased that both parties have reached an agreement that will finally allow Knicks, Rangers, and Sabres fans to enjoy the rest of this season’s games.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (showing considerably more spirit):
I want to thank the MSG-Network and Time Warner Cable for coming to a deal that will put the Knicks and the Rangers back on TV. Now, a million more New Yorkers will be able to go Linsane in the privacy of their own living room. I’m looking forward to watching the return of Carmelo Anthony for the Knicks and Henrik Lundqvist in goal for the Rangers.
Comptroller John Liu will, undoubtedly, be pleased.
Thursday, February 09, 2012
New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is proposing making kindergarten mandatory for the city's 5-year olds and instituting a loan program to help middle-income families pay for child care. Read full prepared remarks here.
Wednesday, February 08, 2012
By Bob Hennelly
The mayoral race is still two years away, but City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's State of the City Thursday presents her with a unique opportunity to frame her vision for a city she reportedly wants to lead.
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
The city and state’s semi-annual campaign finance filings were due this week. In the city, the Mayoral candidates fiscal pictures were the primary focus. As Mirela Iverac reported for WNYC yesterday, City Council speaker Christine Quinn continued to dominate her potential rivals for the Democratic nod. The Speaker is now quickly approaching a point of inertia after becoming the first candidate to raise more than what the campaign finance spending limit during a primary would allow. Quinn’s haul over the last six months was more than $482,000.
But the real story here starts with John Liu, who observers were watching to see how much an impact the fundraising scandal has hurt his efforts. The answer, it seems, is significantly.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Downstate lawmakers, both state legislators and city elected officials, are reacting positively, generally, to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget speech given today in Albany. The biggest pieces of the Governor proposed—pension, education and Medicaid reform—took center stage.
They all could have significant impacts on the city's finances and public workforce. The Governor's pension reform would affect all future new public employees, including New York City first responders, while his teacher evaluation proposal could affect the ongoing battle between the city and teachers. And with billions being spent by the city on Medicaid each year, any change in the payment process is significant for the city.
“Governor Cuomo put forward a budget that demonstrates a bold commitment to tackle some of the toughest challenges facing our great state. He has my strong support,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. Bloomberg has been a strong support of much of what the Governor proposed for education and pensions. The Mayor also said he supported Cuomo’s plan to “reduce onerous local Medicaid costs.”
Council Speaker Christine Quinn signaled she, too, supports the Governor’s plan:” This is the strongest state budget that New York City has seen in a long time. With this new budget, Governor Cuomo is establishing a stronger financial basis for a more vibrant and healthy New York.”
Up in Albany, city lawmakers signaled both support and concern for what they heard from Cuomo.
Friday, January 13, 2012
Below are the Speaker's remarks announcing the agreement. Additional reactions are included after:
For the past year, we have had a debate in the City Council about how to bring more jobs to New York in a way that raises salaries and does not stagnate job growth.
Some have said we should do that by letting the market run its course. Some have said that we should do it by replicating what many major cities in America have done: place a wage requirement on any jobs that are developed through public subsidies. Others have said we should go a step further and put that same requirement on tenants of developments that are built with public subsidies.
I want to thank everyone who has offered support, opposition, data, agreement and disagreement on all three of these perspectives. This has been a worthy debate.
There is nothing more important for government right now than the work of creating and retaining the best jobs we can.
Friday, January 13, 2012
We'll have details as they come in.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
After Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s State of the City speech at Morris High School auditorium this afternoon, elected officials began giving their post-speech reaction on the floor of the emptying auditorium. The mayor’s hard-charging education plans, a new chance for developing the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx, and the Mayor’s support for a minimum wage increase were at the top of lawmaker’s minds.
Most of the likely mayoral candidates on hand lined up against the Mayor's educational plans. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was the exception.
“I think the mayor's five point educational plan is very aggressive,” said Quinn. Education dominated the speech, even as the tone of the Mayor’s speech also turned aggressive towards the teacher’s union. The Speaker went on to say that it's clear this will be a "signature issue over the next 12 months."
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio saw the Mayor’s aggressiveness towards teachers was more like picking a fight.
“A lot of the content he raised was worth looking at and talking about,” de Blasio said. “It’s right to talk about how we make evaluations better, how we make the tenure system better. But why not talk about doing it cooperatively?”
Comptroller John Liu also took issue with the Mayor’s tone towards teachers.
“It was apt that he spent such a large amount of time at the beginning talking about the challenges we still face in our public schools,” Liu said. “[It was] somewhat surprising he spent a good deal of time criticizing teachers and almost throwing down the gauntlet against our teachers.”
The mayor’s education comments weren’t the only hot topics after the speech. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said the Mayor’s support of a state proposal to increase the minimum wage was a step in the right direction.
“The minimum wage proposal is not enough to solve the problems of working families in New York City, but it's a good start,” Stringer said. The minimum wage support and the restart of plans for the Kingsbridge Armory left some with the impression the Mayor was undercutting arguments in the living wage fight. The Borough President said he hoped that wasn’t the case.
“I hope this is a larger strategy to give relief to working people in this city,” Stringer said. “There has to be much more of a concerted effort to deal with the fundamental issues impacting working people.”
Another Borough President, Bronx BP Ruben Diaz, Jr., who had been central to the living wage fight that scuttled the first Kingsbridge development plan, said he didn’t see, nor support, a Kingsbridge proposal that didn’t contain a living wage.
“If you're a developer and you know of the history of the Armory, are you really going to put in a proposal on this [request for proposal] without a living wage,” Diaz asked. “It probably wouldn't be the smartest thing to do."
Monday, December 19, 2011
Updated with additional statements below.
As the New York Times reported today, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio has thrown his support behind the contentious living wage bill sitting stalled in the City Council. In a letter to City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, de Blasio said the legislation was need because "we have not done enough to grow the prospects of all New Yorkers."
"Our city is in the midst of a prolonged economic crisis that has battered the middle class, driven down wages and led to unacceptably high rates of unemployment. Underlying these problems is a rising income inequality that threatens our social fabric and economic future," de Blasio said in the letter. "New York City must move aggressively to address rising income inequality—and I firmly believe that the Living Wage bill represents one of the most immediate and important steps our City can take to do this."
The move puts de Blasio on firm ground in the debate over the bill--and on the side of labor, whose backing he courts in the coming mayoral race--while further boxing in Speaker Quinn, who has not taken a position on the bill. However, the legislation cannot move to the floor without her consent, where it will likely pass. The Speaker has positioned herself as the candidate friendly to business interests in the city, which observers believe are pressuring her to keep the bill from becoming law.
Political consultant Michael Tobman, of the New York City-based firm Hudson TG, saw the letter reflecting three current political realities in the early stages of the 2013 mayoral battle.
Friday, December 16, 2011
The candidate will be able, in one sentence, to shove every campaign talking point and example of effective leadership into one sentence, regardless of the question. Like City Council Speaker Christine Quinn did earlier today on the Leonard Lopate Show. The topic, for what it's worth, is the city's food system:
Though I think a lot of the work were doing now in the council, whether it is to end fingerprinting for food stamps, whether it's recently having filed a lawsuit against a proposal to push homeless people in need out of the homeless system, or our efforts in FoodWorks and other places to try and create more jobs for New Yorkers at different economic and education levels, I hope speaks to the anger that came out of Occupy Wall Street in the way that we in government should be responding by putting in place policies that will put people to work in diverse industries and support new industries.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
The fundraising controversy surrounding City Comptroller John Liu has taken its toll, according to a new Quinnipiac poll. Only 38 percent of those New York City voters polled gave Liu the thumbs up--that's down from his high of 57 percent back in May.
While Liu's standing in the 2013 field doesn't appear to have changed--he's always been pulling single-digit support--voter's sense of his qualifications as mayor are dismal. Among the three citywide(-ish--Quinn wasn't technically elected citywide) Democrats potentially running in 2013--Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, and Liu--46 percent of those polled said Liu would not make a good mayor. That's compared to 37 percent for Quinn and 22 percent for de Blasio.
“New York City Comptroller John Liu has been in the news a lot, in a bad way. All those negative stories about his fundraising have zapped his job-approval numbers,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in the release. “And voters say almost 2-1 that he would not be a good mayor.
“City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio have OK job approval ratings, but voters don’t seem enchanted with the prospect of either elected official as mayor."
But don't take this as a sure sign Liu's 2013 ambitions are dead in the water. Looking at his job approval number details, he's still managing to receive the majority of Black voters and a plurality of Hispanic voters' support. In other words, the multi-racial coalition, backed by labor (there's been no indication the labor-backed Working Families Party has thr5own him under the bus, despite his current spat with Teamster Local president Gregory Floyd), hasn't broken up--at least not in the polls.
Of course, both groups gave Speaker Quinn higher marks, just reinforcing her position as the front runner.
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Council Speaker Christine Quinn:
I praise Governor Cuomo and the leaders of the Senate and Assembly for joining together to forge a strong and, most importantly fair plan, that will help close the budget gap and put our state in a better financial position.
Comptroller John Liu:
I applaud Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Skelos, and Assembly Speaker Silver for their leadership on this important issue and look forward to reviewing the proposal further.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio:
By putting in place a fairer tax structure, Governor Cuomo and State legislative leaders have shown, in contrast to the gridlock in Washington, that by working together we can find solutions to the problems facing our state and nation.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer:
I am gratified that New York state lawmakers worked together and agreed on a plan to boost our economy, unlike those in Washington D.C. who continue to be paralyzed by political gridlock.
2009 Democratic Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson:
I applaud the Governor and the legislature for their vision and leadership in making sure our state's tax structure is appropriately adjusted to meet these difficult financial times and support New York's economic recovery.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Crain's Insider this morning has an interesting piece up that looks at the practice of bundling among the likely 2013 Mayoral candidates. As you may recall, Comptroller John Liu has been in the crosshairs with editorial boards and reporters after the most recent campaign bundler--a person who recruits donors for a campaign--was arrested by the Feds for illegally funneling large sums into Liu's war chest.
But, as Crain's Insider reporters Jeremy Smerd and Shane Dixon Kavanaugh report, Liu is not alone. They take aim at former city Comptroller and 2009 Democratic Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio in particular for what they say are improbably low numbers of bundlers.
Campaign Finance Board filings show a mere nine bundlers who have raised just $38,825 of the nearly $3 million de Blasio has brought in during his past two campaigns. Thompson has reported 11 bundlers contributing $128,733 of the $6.5 million he's amassed in two runs for mayor.
In contrast, Council Speaker Chris Quinn has listed 107 bundlers contributing nearly $1.9 million. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's 114 reported bundlers have raised $994,363.
Political fundraisers and campaign finance experts question the number of intermediaries reported by de Blasio and Thompson. “It's just not possible,” said one who has worked on a number of citywide races. “To raise millions of dollars with so few bundlers—it's an impossible feat.”
De Blasio in particular appears to have under-reported his bundlers. According to the article, his campaign will be revising their filings, adding around 20 new bundlers. There has been no indication of malfeasance or illegal behavior by any of the other 2013 hopefuls' donors, but the reality is that the process of bundling--and the outsized cash it can create thanks to the city's generous public financing of campaigns--is now receiving much greater scrutiny than before.
Monday, November 21, 2011
It's not just Republicans scouting for possible Senate districts heading out to the Orthodox Masbia Soup Kitchen on Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn. At least one Mayoral contender, and a potential Comptroller candidate, are now among those visiting the popular nonprofit.
Monday, November 21, 2011
Note: I originally stated the hearing was being held today--it's being held tomorrow at 1 pm. My apologies.
As WNYC's Yasmeen Khan reports, the City Council today is holding a hearing on the revised living wage bill which would require certain city-connected work offer a starting wage of $10 an hour, with benefits.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and leaders in the business community have been vocal opponents of the bill, saying it will make business in the city prohibitively expensive. But proponents of the measure are making their voices heard ahead of today's hearings. Last Friday, one of the city's largest union, SEIU 1199, came out in support of the revised measure.
"There’s no denying that low-income people and the unemployed in New York City are hurting, and this legislation strikes the right balance between incentivizing growth and development in the hardest-hit communities and ensuring that the jobs created lift up people in those communities,” said George Gresham, the union's president, said in a statement.
But it's not just labor backing the bill. Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, the executive director of Catholic Charities, has been announced as a speaker at a rally in support of the bill tonight at Riverside Church in Manhattan.
The New York Times over the weekend spoke with Sullivan:
"We’re going to speak about how this economic crisis continues to hurt everybody in society, particularly the poor,” the monsignor said. “We need to make sure there are decent jobs with decent wages.”
The single biggest question surrounding the legislation is whether or not Council Speaker Christine Quinn will allow the bill to come to the floor for a vote where it would almost certainly pass.
The situation puts Quinn in a bind. Support the measure and risk losing the backing of the business community ahead of the 2013 mayoral contest. Deny labor the vote it wants on the legislation, and their support for her candidacy in the all-important Democratic primary would be in serious doubt. This could ultimately turn out to be the single most important action of Quinn's 2013 campaign.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
We're talking to city, state and Federal officials to get their reactions to this morning's clearing of protesters from Zuccotti Park. We'll update as reactions come in.
At long last, a statement from City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on the Mayor's actions last night:
As I have said from the very beginning, we must balance the protesters’ First Amendment rights with the rights of the residents, workers, and businesses of Lower Manhattan. We must protect the protestors' right to peaceful assembly and the local community's right to a safe and secure neighborhood.
Today’s actions include reports of excessive force by the NYPD, and reports of infringement of the rights of the press. If these reports are true, these actions are unacceptable. The Council will seek answers to questions surrounding these reports and clarifying information regarding the arrest and treatment of Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.
In a spirit of cooperation, we must work to ensure that the protesters are allowed back into Zuccotti Park as soon as possible and are allowed to exercise their right to protest while not impeding on the rights of others.
A joint statement from Manhattan State Senator Dan Squadron and Congressman Jerrold Nadler, whose district covers Zuccotti Park:
We agree that Zuccotti Park must be open and accessible to everyone – OWS, the public, law enforcement and first responders – and that it is critical to protect the health and safety of protesters and the community.
We have also been urging the City to have a zero tolerance policy on noise and sanitation violations, and to make the results of its enforcement public. But we must balance the core First Amendment rights of protesters and the other legitimate issues that have been raised.
The City’s actions to shut down OWS last night raise a number of serious civil liberties questions that must be answered. Moving forward, how will the City respect the protesters’ rights to speech and assembly? Why was press access limited, and why were some reporters’ credentials confiscated? How will reported incidents of excessive force used by the police be addressed?
On the issue of Brookfield’s rules, we are very concerned that they were promulgated after the protesters arrived; the specific legal questions on this topic are being addressed where it is appropriate – in the courts.
Whatever the courts rule, the City’s actions here must not be a backdoor means of ending the free exercise of protesters’ rights. Irrespective of this incident, OWS is now bigger than Zuccotti Park, and no one has the power to silence this national movement.
Statement from the chair of the City Council's civil rights committee, Staten Island Councilwoman Debi Rose:
Last night, Freedom of Speech was attacked like a thief in the night. While I recognize the importance of the occupier's health and safety, I seriously question whether protesters were given ample time to vacate the park without creating a scene of pandemonium. The fact that Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez was injured during this process was indicative of the indiscriminate use of force. I stand by my friend and colleague, Ydanis Rodriquez and I also stand firmly on the side of the 99 percent!
Statement from the chair of the City Council's public safety committee, Queens Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr.:
I support Mayor Bloomberg’s actions today in ending only the illegal aspects of what had clearly become an occupation which denied others their right to safe, clean streets. The protests can continue, within the reasonable restrictions set by the legislature and the courts.
Manhattan Democratic Party chairman Assemblyman Keith Wright said he'd visited the encampment at least seven times and had found protesters who "weren't bothering anybody."
"It seemed clean. It seemed orderly," he said. "I think it was a power move by the mayor. I don't really quite understand why they cannot go back and camp out." He continued, saying the Mayor was "trying to get rid of the mosquito that's been buzzing in [Bloomberg's] ear."
Statement from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer:
For many weeks, there has been a struggle to balance the protesters’ First Amendment freedoms and the health, sanitation, and safety concerns surrounding Zuccotti Park. During this time, I have enjoyed a collaborative discourse with the Administration on this issue. I want to thank in particular my colleagues in government including Deputy Mayor Wolfson.
Last night, the Administration acted to end the occupation of Zuccotti Park by forcible eviction, and I am greatly troubled by reports of unnecessary force against protestors and members of the media, including the use of “chokeholds” and pepper spray. I am also troubled by reports of media being forcibly kept away at a distance from these events. American foreign correspondents routinely put themselves in harm’s way to do their jobs, in some of the most brutal dictatorships in the world. And their NYC colleagues deserve the freedom to make the same choice. Zuccotti Park is not Tiananmen Square. I call for a full explanation of police behavior in this evacuation.
New York City has a duty to protect public safety, and it also has a duty to protect people’s freedom to voice concerns about economic justice that have struck a deep chord with millions of Americans. Surely our City can do both.
Statement from Comptroller John Liu:
Going in and forcibly removing the protestors in the dead of night sends the wrong message. City Hall should have continued to talk with the protestors in the light of day if it wanted them removed, instead of evicting them in the middle of the night. There seems to be no compelling reason for this action at this time. The protestors have a right to be heard.
City Councilman Jumaane Williams was at Zuccotti Park this morning by 2 am, after hearing that Mayor Michael Bloomberg had ordered the clearing of protesters. "Just in time to see [City Councilman] Ydanis [Rodriguez] put in the paddywagon," Williams said. Rodriguez was arrested this morning along with more than a hundred other protesters.
"I think it's a very bad day for democracy. And I'm sorry that Bloomberg has his name all over it," the Councilman continued. He said the actions by the Mayor would serve to "galvanize" support for the Occupation, bringing more people in.
"People are going to get more energized now," he said.
Manhattan State Senator Liz Krueger:
I am very disturbed that the City's approach to dealing with the "health and fire safety" issues raised by the Zuccotti protest was a surprise ambush in the middle of the night. Physically forcing people out of the park or leaving them to face arrest, with no notice or warning, is not a commitment to civil rights and it certainly was not the right way to handle this situation.
Statement from Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who has been supportive of the Occupation. Hoping to speak to him a bit more on this later.
Protecting public safety and quality of life for downtown residents, and guaranteeing free expression are not exclusive of one another. Mayor Bloomberg made a needlessly provocative and legally questionable decision to clear Zuccotti Park in the dead of night. That some media and observers were prevented from monitoring the action is deeply troubling.
I know of no one—protesters included—who desires a permanent occupation of lower Manhattan. But provocations under cover of darkness only escalate tensions in a situation that calls for mediation and dialogue. I call on the Mayor to find a sustainable resolution—as other cities have done—that allows for the exercise of free speech and assembly, with respect for the rights of all New Yorkers to peaceful enjoyment of our great city.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Reporters got a sneak peek at the construction that's been going on inside City Hall since 2008. The mayor's press office conducted a tour with Deputy Commissioner David Resnick of the Department of Design and Construction. Some City Hall staff have already moved back into the space, with the first full council hearing expected to be conducted on December 8. The final price tag: $123.8 million--nearly twice the initial expected cost. For a great backgrounder on the project, check out Javier Hernandez's Times piece back in June.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Before a controversial homeless policy goes into effect on Monday, City Council members questioned whether the city has the proper state approval to implement it. The policy would require single adults to demonstrate they have no other place to go before being considered eligible for staying in a shelter.