Mayor 2013

The Brian Lehrer Show

Weiner Voters; Race and Age; Economic Mobility

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

McDonald’s released a sample living expenses budget for its low-wage workers. We’ll take your calls on how you live or have lived with a minimum wage income, and hear advice from Deyanira Del Rio of the New Economy Project (formerly NEDAP). Then, the details of a study on economic mobility in the United States. Plus: Democratic mayoral hopeful Bill Thompson on the race; and an hour of open phones – this week on race in America.

→ Online Forum: Did Bloomberg Make Us Richer?

The Brian Lehrer Show

An Hour with George Vecsey; John Liu; DC Politics

Monday, July 22, 2013

George Vecsey, New York Times sports columnist and author, spends a full hour on the show. He'll talk about covering baseball in New York and take listener questions. Plus: New York City Comptroller John Liu talks about his campaign to be the Democratic candidate for mayor; listeners react to new images of Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev; and Molly Ball of The Atlantic looks at the week ahead in Washington politics.

→ Online Forum: Did Bloomberg Make Us Richer?


Have Disgraced Candidates Turned NYC Into a Laughingstock?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

With ex-politicians Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer and Vito Lopez all eyeing spots on the ballot this fall, New York Times columnist Gail Collins wonders whether politics in New York City has become a punchline to the rest of the country.

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Radio Rookies

TEEN TALK on Improving NYC Schools

Monday, July 08, 2013


Radio Rookies and the Resilience Advocacy Project (RAP) will host an online live chat on Wednesday, July 24th from 1-2 PM, where teens can voice their opinions about and experiences in NYC schools and make suggestions for improvement.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Anthony Weiner: Candidate for Mayor

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Former NY Congressman and candidate for the Democratic mayoral nomination Anthony Weiner discusses his candidacy, and the key issues on the campaign trail from the calls for an NYPD Inspector General to his call to make all city contracts public.

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On Whirlwind Day, Christine Quinn Is Front and Center

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Christine Quinn had quite a day in the public eye Wednesday.



New Yorkers React to Weiner's Gains in Polls

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Two polls are showing former Rep. Anthony Weiner gaining ground among the city's Democrats in his bid for the party nomination in the New York City mayoral race.

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Labor's Allegiance Split in NYC Mayoral Race

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Council Speaker Christine Quinn picked up the endorsement Tuesday of 32BJ, a big regional union that represents cleaning workers, doormen and security guards.


The Brian Lehrer Show

UFT Endorses Bill Thompson

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Yesterday the New York City teacher's union endorsed Democrat Bill Thompson for mayor. Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers in New York, talks about the endorsement, how education issues will figure into the mayoral race, and the Bloomberg education legacy.

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UFT Backs Thompson, Putting Major Unions At Odds: Your Guide to What it Means

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


For the candidates, union backing can be an important seal of approval on their policies, and for the unions with the mobilization muscle, an important turnout machine.


Transportation Nation

We Like Buses, but Not the TLC, say NYC Mayoral Candidates

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

They like buses. They really really like them. But the New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission -- not so much. On those issues, at a mayoral forum devoted to transportation issues, the candidates found common ground.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Lautenberg Death; Bill Thompson; Israel's Deputy Defense Minister; Judge Kaye

Monday, June 03, 2013

In Washington, lawmakers are debating the rates for government subsidized student loans. Wall Street Journal reporter Elizabeth Williamson discusses. Plus: Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson; Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon; the former chief judge of New York state Judith Kaye; and youth sports where everyone wins.

The Brian Lehrer Show

Anthony Weiner; Cyberwarfare; Economics of Weed; Airbnb

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner has announced he's running for mayor. He'll lay out his vision for the city. Plus: New York Times chief Washington correspondent, David Sanger, discusses cyberwarfare; the economics of pot; and WNYC's Ilya Marritz discusses the case of the man who was fined $2,400 for renting his apartment on Airbnb--and what it could mean for your summer rental plans.

The Brian Lehrer Show

Online Sales Tax; John Catsimatidis; Marijuana Addiction

Friday, May 10, 2013

The U.S. Senate has passed a bill to require online retailers to collect state sales taxes if they make $1 million or more. We’ll hear about its status in the House and take calls from business owners. And a May series on marijuana legalization continues with a look at addiction and health. Plus: John Catsimatidis on his bid to be the Republican candidate for mayor; a science journalist talks about making the decision to freeze her eggs; and the secret language of Craigslist real estate postings.

The Brian Lehrer Show

John Liu's Former Associates Convicted

Friday, May 03, 2013

Two of NYC Comptroller John Liu's former campaign associates have been convicted of an illegal straw donor scheme to raise campaign funds for Liu's mayoral bid. WNYC reporter Brigid Bergin was in the courtroom throughout the two week trial. She discusses the convictions and what it means for John Liu's chances to become the next mayor of New York. 

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Recycling Plastic; NYC Jobs Blueprint; Centrists; La Ruta

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The month-long series on recycling in New York City with Ron Gonen, the deputy commissioner of sanitation, recycling, and sustainability, concludes today with a conversation about plastics, glass, and metal. Plus: Freakonomics host Stephen Dubner on why the brothers Tsarnaev remind him of the brothers Kaczynski; a centrist manifesto; a blueprint by big business for economic growth; and a play about immigration.

The Brian Lehrer Show

Green Mayor; Muslims React; Morning TV Wars; Earl the Pearl

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Brian hosted a mayoral forum all about the environmental policies of the candidates. Hear extended excerpts. Plus: Reaction from Muslims to the identities of the Boston bombing suspects; New York Times media reporter Brian Stelter on his new book on the morning T.V. wars; the connection between conservative Christians and international adoptions; and Hall of Fame basketball player Earl "the Pearl" Monroe.

The Brian Lehrer Show

Boston Latest; New State Exams; John Liu; Immigration Reform

Friday, April 19, 2013

One suspect has been killed and another (as of 9am) is on the loose in the Boston marathon bombings. We bring you the latest in rolling coverage. Plus: WNYC's Beth Fertig takes calls from parents on what they're hearing from their children; NYC Comptroller John Liu; and more.

Transportation Nation

Stringer Puts Transit on the Mayoral Map, But Backs off Support of Congestion Charging

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

LIRR commuters (photo by @MSG via flickr)

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer -- a likely 2013 New York mayoral candidate -- put transit squarely in the middle of the 2013 debate Tuesday by proposing a reinstatement of the commuter tax and an infrastructure bank to fund long term capital projects, including more rapid buses in the outer boroughs and a subway from Brooklyn to the Bronx.

"I believe we need to get back to an era in which public transportation is acknowledged as an essential civil responsibility," Stringer said in a speech to the Association for a Better New York.  "Right alongside public safety and education."

Stringer wants to re-jigger the way capital construction is financed, setting up an infrastructure bank seeded by the NY Mortgage recording tax, which now funds transit operations.

But to do that, he needs a replacement source of funds for transit operations, and he's looking to the restored commuter tax to supply more than $700 million a year to do that.

Still,  the fate of the commuter tax, which would be borne exclusively by suburbanites, is cloudy at best, and it's already being blasted by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who's calling it "penny-wise and pound-foolish."

And in supporting the commuter tax, Stringer is backing away from his previous support of congestion charging. The commuter tax would only affect suburbanites, who won't vote for the next mayor, while a congestion charge would hit some city residents.

The commuter tax -- a 0.45 percent surcharge on income -- died in 1999 when Democratic Assembly member Sheldon Silver brokered a deal to eliminate the tax in order to help a Democrat win a special Senate election in Orange County. The Democrat lost. The tax was detested by suburbanites.

But Stringer says he thinks he can get it passed. "Every Mayor, when they get elected, gets one big ticket from Albany," Stringer said in a question-and-answer session after Tuesday's speech. " Mayor Bloomberg got mayoral control of the school system. Other mayors came up and asked for something from Albany that can change the discourse in this city. I believe the next mayor can go to Albany, rearrange the commuter tax, build a partnership with suburban elected officials, and finally finally finally get this transit system on sound footing because this is not just a New York City issue, it’s a regional issue. And if we flounder, we could take our economy with us, and that’s the argument we have to make."

In 2008, a congestion charging plan backed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg passed the New York City Council, but died in the legislature, where it found little support.

Congestion charging is “our last best chance to reduce the number of cars and trucks on our streets, lessen the business costs associated with congestion, reduce asthma rates, build new mass transit, and prepare New York City for another million residents," Stringer testified in 2008.

But Stringer stopped short of endorsing the latest congestion charging plan -- Sam Schwartz's  "Fair Plan" -- which would charge drivers entering Manhattan while  lowering some other tolls around the city. Stringer said that was an idea that deserves "discussion." His prepared remarks said "serious consideration."

When questioned after the speech, Stringer said "I am supporting my plan...I’m not endorsing the Sam Schwartz plan. I’m not endorsing those ideas today, but I wanted to say to people, elected officials, potential candidates, why don’t we dig in and have a real discussion and not be afraid to talk about new ideas?"

Stringer's press people were also quite clear that Stringer does not favor congestion charging -- although he doesn't not support it either.

The MTA stopped short of supporting Stringer's call for a commuter tax, but spokesman Adam Lisberg said "we're glad that he’s started this conversation about how to get more funding for the MTA, because the MTA needs money."

Neither the congestion charge nor the commuter tax have much support in Albany. Governor Andrew Cuomo, when asked about the congestion charge while campaigning for Governor, called it " moot." He's shown a distinct distaste for taxes -- especially dedicated transit taxes -- this year eliminating a dedicated tax surcharge for the MTA paid by suburbanites.

In supporting a commuter tax over the congestion charge, Stringer is hewing a politically less treacherous route -- he's not pushing for a tax or a toll that some outer borough residents detest. No constituents of Stringers, should he be elected mayor, would be affected by the commuter tax.

Of the other 2013 candidates for Mayor, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn helped steer the congestion charge through the city council -- where Public Advocate Bill Di Blasio, then a council member, voted against it. City Comptroller Bill Thompson, a 2009 mayoral candidate, opposed congestion charging, but supported more expensive registration fees for heavier cars.

Former Congressman Anthony Weiner, before he withdrew from the 2009 Mayor's race, supported congestion charging -- but only for people who didn't live in New York.

In 2005, no Democratic candidates for mayor supported congestion charging.  I know, because I asked them about it during the primary debate.



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Transportation Nation

The Politics of Driving

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn got a whole bunch of attention (including from WNYC), for her proposal, packaged to land with maximum punch in her state of the city address, to ease the lives of those New Yorkers who feel they are a slave to alternate-side-of-the-street parking and other motorist-related hassles.

As WNYC's Azi Paybarah reports it, Quinn said in her speech Tuesday: "almost every New Yorker has a story about getting a ticket they didn't deserve."

Azi explains: "new legislation would be written to allow ticket agents to literally "tear up" a ticket when a motorist presented proof that they stepped away from their car in order to purchase a parking ticket at a nearby meter. The problem, Quinn said, of those wrongfully issued tickets was bountiful."

But. The politics of driving in New York City are far from simple. Unlike every other city in America, the majority of New Yorkers take transit to work. More than 90 percent of people who work in Manhattan don't get there by private car.  But in politics, the beleaguered middle class driver -- like "Joe the Plumber," an archetype with great political hold -- is a powerful icon.

Since I've been covering this issue, candidates for Mayor (and Quinn is widely expected to be one 2013) have tried, with varying degrees of success, to tap dance around it. To take a walk down memory lane, in an August 2005 mayoral debate I asked (page 11 of the transcript) the democratic candidates about whether traffic into Manhattan should be limited by tolling East River bridges (which unlike some other crossings into Manhattan, are free).

There were four candidates at the time vying to be the Democratic nominee against Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the time: former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer (who went on to be the nominee against Bloomberg), Congressman Anthony Weiner (who didn't run in 2009 because, he said, there was too much important work to do in Washington, but who very well may run in 2013), Gifford Miller, the City Council Speaker (Quinn's current job) and Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields. None of them were for charging drivers to enter Manhattan by tolling East River bridges. To Weiner, it was "a tax on the middle class."

Throughout the 2008 fight on congestion charging, that's how opponents portrayed it. Quinn, however, stood up and took the heat. Through arm-twisting,  cajoling, and pleading, she pushed forward Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal to charge motorists $8 to enter the busiest parts of Manhattan during peak hours. Proponents, including Quinn, argued that the charge would ease traffic, reduce driving and help the environment, and make hundreds of millions of federal dollars available for mass transit.

“This is a bold decision… which will send a message to the state Legislature that we are sick and tired of our streets being clogged with traffic," Quinn said after the relatively narrow council vote of 30-20. (Narrow, because Quinn is the Democratic Speaker of a Council that is almost entirely composed of Democrats, and can usually get upwards of 40 council members to support her on any given measure.) But the council didn't actually have the power to enact the charge -- the state legislature did. And that body never voted, leaving some city council members who'd gone along with Quinn bitter that they'd been forced to take a stand on a relatively controversial issue.

Congestion charging did not come to be in New York City. The federal government took back its offer of hundreds of millions of dollars in transit aid. Partly because of that, the MTA faced down an $800 million budget gap last year, imposed the most severe service cuts in a generation, and raised fares.

Of the candidates who may run for Mayor in 2013 in New York, Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio is on record as opposing congestion charging. He was one of the 20 votes against Quinn. Weiner has remained opposed, and most recently, when former MTA chief and transit eminence gris Richard Ravitch put forward a plan to save the MTA with bridge tolls, Weiner wasn't for that, either. City Comptroller John Liu, formerly a city council member from Queens and chair of the transportation committee, supported congestion charging -- but not bridge tolls. And then of course, there's Quinn.

All of this is the backdrop of Tuesday's speech, which comes in the wake of general outer-borough fury at Mayor Michael Bloomberg for failing to plow the streets in a timely manner after the blizzard of 2010. That's been rolled into general Bloomberg-fatigue (he's now in his third term after promising to serve for only two), resistance to some of Bloomberg's reforms that are seen by some motorists as anti-automobile (bike lanes come to mind), and general frustration by middle class New Yorkers suffering the third year of a recession as property taxes, water rates, and parking fees rise.

And thus Quinn's refrain, in a speech that usually ricochets with resonance, that among her lofty goals "is just making it easier to find a parking spot."

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