Page 1

(Photo: AAron ClAmAge)

www.cityandstateny.com

Why could have it all Page 14 Vol. 1, No. 15

July 16, 2012

SeSSioN recap: cuomo’S wiNS aNd loSSeS page 6 the deputy mayor for twitter page 8


UPFRONT

AN OPEN EMAIL AROUND NEW YORK The best items from The Notebook, City & State’s political blog TO THE BOE To: Jose Miguel Araujo, Naomi Barrera, Julie Dent, Maria R. Guastella, Nancy Mottola-Schacher, Juan Carlos Polanco, John Peter Sipp, Gregory C. Soumas; Judith D. Stupp, Frederic M. Umane From: mpehme@cityandstateny.com Dear Commissioners, New your colleagues to come York City Board of Elections: clean. That while those The reason I address each around you openly mock the of you as individuals in this cardinal tenets of the Board’s column is that reading all mission “to conduct fair of the editorials and articles and honest elections” and of late skewering the Board “to enfranchise all eligible” of Elections for—take your voters, you lie awake in bed pick—utter incompetence each night ashamed of your or a patronage-controlled association with a body that culture of cronyism that has shaken your fellow New verges on outright corrup- Yorkers’ fundamental faith tion, it is easy to imagine in the fairness and credibility the Board as some faceless of our democratic process. Trust me, we can speak off bureaucratic monstrosity rather than a collection of, the record. Or if you don’t want to give City & State I’m sure, fundathe exclusive, I mentally decent understand—we people like you. will be more than I also list all willing to forward of your names your statement to because I am the Feds. I hear hoping—in this they go easier on era of Google witnesses who Alerts, meta tags cooperate early in and keywords— an investigation. that, even if my Morgan Pehme We both know message gets EDITOR somehow snagged by your spam box, perhaps your browser will still one day find its way to this piece so that I may make the following friendly suggestion to you: Press “Reply” to this email and BLOW THE WHISTLE! Won’t it feel good to get all that guilt off your chest? To let the city know that you—you know who you are—just fell into this gig, which seemed like an honor at the time, and that you never intended to be the political pawn of the party bosses who appointed you. That while your public silence heretofore on all of the Board’s outrages and embarrassments may imply your complicity, in truth you have been the one behind the scenes urging

the media has unfairly maligned you by painting you with a broad brush. It’s not your fault that the 2010 election nearly resulted in a meltdown, that one of your deputy directors was exposed to have voted illegally in the past, that 483 election districts citywide recorded zero votes cast in this most recent primary, or that one of your chief clerks met surreptitiously with the Rangel campaign just days prior to the problematic vote in NY-13. You had nothing to do with it. And yet everyone will continue to think you did, unless you come forth and tell us otherwise. Now is your chance. I look forward to receiving your response.

Editorial (212) 894-5417 Advertising (212) 284-9712 advertising@cityandstateny.com General (212) 268-8600 City & State is published twice monthly. Copyright © 2012, Manhattan Media, LLC 2

JULY 16, 2012 | www.cityandstateny.com

City & State’s political blog, The Notebook, is your key source for political and campaign developments in New York. Stay on top of the news with items like these at www.cityandstateny.com/thenotebook. 1. BROOKLYN

2

Have we stumbled into an episode of Mad Men? Republican State Sen. Marty Golden’s office planned a career-development event this month for women in his district to teach them “Posture, Deportment and the Feminine Presence.” The taxpayer-funded event— presented by a “certified protocol consultant”— was to be part of a series educating women in Brooklyn about “what’s new in the 21st century as it relates to business etiquette and social protocol.” More details were available on Golden’s Senate website, including the promise that women in attendance would be instructed how to “sit, stand and walk like a model,” “walk up and down a stair elegantly” and get acquainted with the “differences in American and Continental rules governing handshakes and introductions.” The class was scheduled to be held in Bay Ridge Manor, the catering hall formerly owned by Golden, which is now owned by Golden’s brother and run by the senator’s wife. A spokesman for Golden said the goal of the event was simply to help young women land jobs, but Jill Filipovic, who writes for the blog Feministe, said lawmakers like Golden should instead focus on passing equal-pay legislation and combating

3

rising child-care costs. Golden subsequently canceled the event. 2. BUFFALO

With the Republican congressional primary behind him, Chris Collins is expected to gear up his fundraising to knock off Rep. Kathy Hochul, who had $882,596 in campaign cash to Collins’ $176,179 as of June 6. The former Erie County executive largely self-funded his primary campaign, though he has a lot of ground to make up to compete with Hochul and is expected to start reaching out to donors for help. Michael Kracker, Collins’ campaign manager, declined to provide specifics about how he would raise the funds or how much he hopes to bring in, but asserted Collins would have enough money to win the race. “Given the stark contrast between Chris’ vision of smaller government and less spending in Washington and Representative Hochul’s support of Barack Obama’s big-government policies like Obamacare, the campaign will be properly funded,” Kracker said.

1

3. ALBANY

Wynn Resorts is the latest casino giant to contract with a New York lobbyist, inking a six-month, $60,000 deal with Albany lobbying firm LJM Rad as the state moves toward legalizing gambling. Billionaire Steve Wynn, the company’s CEO, already had indicated an interest in expanding to the state, and the chance to locate a casino in New York City may have opened up when negotiations fell apart on a proposal by a rival casino company, Genting. In his State of the State address in January Gov. Andrew Cuomo had touted Genting’s plan to build a convention center at the site of its existing Queens racino, and Genting had hoped for an exclusivity agreement for full-fledged gaming in New York City in exchange for building a convention center, but neither materialized. Wynn’s lobbying agreement with LJM Rad was made on June 1, the same day the governor acknowledged that talks with Genting had broken down. Wynn also bought a swanky penthouse overlooking Central Park recently, evidence perhaps of his desire to build a casino in the city.

EDITORIAL Editor Morgan Pehme mpehme@manhattanmedia.com Managing Editor Jon Lentz jlentz@cityandstateny.com Reporters Chris Bragg cbragg@cityandstateny.com Laura Nahmias lnahmias@cityandstateny.com Aaron Short ashort@manhattanmedia.com Copy Editor Helen Eisenbach Photography Editor Andrew Schwartz Editorial Interns Mike Bocamazo, Wilder Fleming, Shoshana Lauter, Sam Levine ADVERTISING Associate Publishers Jim Katocin, Seth Miller Advertising Manager Marty Strongin Senior Account Executives Ceil Ainsworth, Monica Conde Director of Events & Special Projects Andrew A. Holt Executive Assistant of Sales Jennie Valenti PRODUCTION Art Director Christie Wright Production Manager Heather Mulcahey Ad Designer Quarn Corley MANHATTAN MEDIA President/CEO Tom Allon CFO/COO Joanne Harras Director of Interactive Marketing and Digital Strategy Vinny DiDonato

CITY&STATE


BREAKFAST SERIES THURSDAY JULY 19, 2012 Club 101 – 101 Park Avenue, NYC Breakfast & Program 8:00am – 9:30am City & State Editor Morgan Pehme Sits down with

New York State Comptroller THOMAS DINAPOLI Follow the conversation using the hashtag #NewsMakersBreakfast

CITY&STATE

Presented By

www.cityandstateny.com | July 16, 2012

3


UPFRONT THE KICKER: A CHOICE QUOTE FROM CITY & STATE ’S FIRST READ EMAIL “We never said the world is coming to an end.” —Mayor Michael Bloomberg, on how the city resolved some of its budget problems so quickly, via The Wall Street Journal.

THE FOOTNOTE: A real press release, annotated Sent 6:39 p.m. on Monday, June 25 from Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s press office The city is banking on bringing in $635 million in fiscal 2013 as it begins selling 2,000 taxi medallions as part of a plan to expand street-hail service outside Manhattan, but the revenue is in question since the plan has been delayed in the courts.

The New York City Independent Budget Office offers a “positive” economic forecast for the city, but it has also warned that financial woes in Europe and other international and domestic factors could disrupt the city’s recovery—and alter its budget.

When the City Council voted to adopt the 2013 budget later in the week, it also overrode several mayoral vetoes, including one on living-wage legislation and another on a bill requiring an assessment of how well banks are serving their neighborhoods.

For weeks advocates and elected officials decried proposed cuts to child-care and after-school programs. The spending cuts were ultimately eliminated from the budget.

4

MAYOR BLOOMBERG, SPEAKER QUINN AND MEMBERS OF THE CITY COUNCIL ANNOUNCE AGREEMENT FOR AN ON-TIME, BALANCED BUDGET No Tax Increases and Preservation of Essential Services as Result of Prudent Planning, Spending Restraint and an Increasingly Diversified City Economy Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and members of the City Council today announced an agreement for an on-time, balanced budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 that includes no tax increases and preserves essential services. The budget remains balanced through the use of prudently saved prior-year resources, billions in agency savings actions and increased revenues from strong growth in the tech, film and television, tourism and higher education sectors. The City Council is expected to vote on the FY 2013 budget agreement this week, marking the 11th consecutive year Mayor Bloomberg and the City Council have enacted an on-time, balanced budget. “Working with our partners in the Council, we’ve again produced an on-time, balanced budget for our city that doesn’t raise taxes on New Yorkers, and that preserves the essential services that keep our city strong,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “When times were better, the City set aside surplus revenue – and when the first storm clouds gathered in 2007, we began cutting budgets. These actions – and our work over the past decade to diversify the economy and make it less reliant on Wall Street – have allowed us avoid the severe service cuts that many other cities are facing. We face a significant challenge again next year, but given the effective and fiscally responsible partnership we’ve had with the Council – and the leadership we know we can rely on from Speaker Christine Quinn – I’m confident we’ll meet any challenges that arise.” “Working parents need to have their children protected and cared for while they are at work. Children need to receive a high quality educational experience at an early age. We are creating a program that responds to both of these needs,” said Speaker Quinn. “We are saying that child care can and must be part of a lifelong education that continues with pre-K, through Kindergarten and that ultimately leads to every child graduating high school ready for college. That is our ultimate goal, and it begins with academic day care, and it begins with what we have built here today.” “This budget saved jobs, maintained vital public services, and secured a strong financial footing for our city going forward,” said Councilman and Finance Chair Domenic M. Recchia Jr. “Most importantly, we made the right investment in our future and put children and families at the forefront of this process. Now, tens of thousands of families throughout New York City can rest assured that the daycare, early childhood education, and afterschool programs they depend on, will be there for them. I want to thank Speaker Christine Quinn for her leadership, as well as Mayor Michael Bloomberg, for working with us to deliver a sound budget. I also want to thank our Finance Division, my colleagues in the City Council, and most importantly, New Yorkers. Members of the public from across all five boroughs told us what was important to them and what needed to be done. This was a team effort and, considering the challenges we faced from a struggling economy and reduced government aid, it

JULY 16, 2012 | www.cityandstateny.com

The final budget also restored 20 fire companies that were on the chopping block, continuing an annual budget dance between the mayor and the City Council over plans to shut fire companies, followed by the eventual restoration of their funding.

BY THE NUMBERS

Total number of bills introduced, 2011–12 Assemblyman Steven Englebright introduced more bills than any other lawmaker in Albany over the past two years, though Sen. Carl Kruger was on pace to beat him—had he not left office in disgrace. Among those who served a full two-year term, Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. introduced the fewest bills, though he at least picked up the pace over the two years. Here’s a snapshot of the rest of the most active—and the least active—state legislators in New York. (SOURCE: NYPIRG)

MOST BILLS* INTRODUCED:

375 372 301 301 284

2011

343 2012

32

1. Assemblyman Steve Englebright 2011

372 2012

0

2. Sen. Carl Kruger

Safeguards put in place during New York City’s fiscal crisis in the 1970s, including the creation of a financial control board, have established a pattern of on-time budgets in the city.

Quinn, a leading candidate to replace Bloomberg next year, has long been seen as a close ally of the mayor, and many observers expect her to have his endorsement in 2013.

The Citizens Budget Commission argued that despite all the attention paid to child-care cuts, the focus should have been on the city’s “overly generous contributions to the health insurance of former city employees and their spouses,” which got no mention in the mayor’s release.

2011

223 2012

78

3. Sen. Martin Golden 2011

254 2012

47

4. Sen. Kenneth LaValle 2011

241

2012

43

5. Sen. George Maziarz

FEWEST BILLS* INTRODUCED:

3 4 6 7 7

2011

0

2012

3

1. Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. 2011

3

2012

1

2. Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo 2011

5

2012

1

3. Assemblyman José Rivera 2011

5

2012

2

4. Assemblywoman Janet Duprey 2011

3

2012

4

5. Assemblyman Dov Hikind *ONLY INCLUDES LAWMAKERS WHO SERVED THE FULL TWO YEARS

CITY&STATE


1750 Attorneys | 35 Locations° | www.gtlaw.com

Helping clients navigate

government ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT | EDUCATION | FINANCIAL REGULATION | HEALTHCARE | LAND USE & ZONING L E G I S L AT I V E & R E G U L ATO RY | P 3 & I N F R A ST R U C T U R E | P RO C U R E M E N T | R E A L E STAT E | T E C H N O LO GY

one-stop service & a strategic approach Greenberg Traurig’s Government Law Team provides a unique skill-set built on real government and business experience. We collaborate with government decision makers and understand key players’ priorities. We have an established record of executing “win – win” strategies. Greenberg Traurig understands government and business. The Government Law Team works closely with Greenberg Traurig’s Real Estate and Land Use & Zoning attorneys. NYC GoverNmeNt Law team ed wallace, GT NY Co-Managing Shareholder; served as NYC Council Member and a VP at Boston Properties. Listed in Super Lawyers and The Best Lawyers in America.® John mascialino, Chair, GT NY Government Law Team; served as First Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services and as Counsel/Deputy Chief-of-Staff to the Deputy Mayor for Operations. robert Harding, Former NYC Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Finance and former Director of the NYC Office of Management and Budget. melinda Katz, former NYC Council Member, Chaired the Land Use Committee; former NYS Assembly Member, Chaired the Subcommittee on Urban Health.

reaL estate robert Ivanhoe, Chair, GT NY and Global Real Estate Practice. Named New York Post Top 4 commercial real estate lawyer, NY Super Lawyers Top 10 and The New York Observer “Top 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate.” LaNd Use & ZoNING Jay segal, Co-Chair GT National Land Use Practice. Listed in The Best Lawyers in America® and Super Lawyers in recognition of 25 years of land use practice. deirdre Carson, a GT Shareholder, has over 25 years of land use law experience. Listed in Super Lawyers, named a Real Estate New York “Women of Influence” in 2009. She served as an Assistant to Mayor Koch. Nick Hockens, a GT Land Use & Zoning Shareholder, elevated in 2011, worked as an urban planner before practicing law. He has a Ph.D. from Northwestern University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Greenberg Traurig is a service mark and trade name of Greenberg Traurig, LLP and Greenberg Traurig, P.A. ©2012 Greenberg Traurig, LLP. Attorneys at Law. All rights reserved. Contact: Ed Wallace, John Mascialino, Robert Harding or Melinda Katz in New York at 212.801.9200. °These numbers are subject to fluctuation. 13897

CITY&STATE

www.cityandstateny.com | July 16, 2012

5


P O L I CY

The Post-Session Scorecard Pols promised much; what did they deliver? By Laura Nahmias

A

t the close of his second legislative session as the state’s executive, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ran down a litany of accomplishments, citing a spirit of bipartisan cooperation between his office and both houses of the Legislature as a lubricant for getting things done. But how many of the legislative leaders’ promises actually came to fruition? Sen. Majority Leader Dean Skelos offered little in the way of concrete plans at the session’s start, and has cited the partial repeal of the MTA payroll tax in late 2011 as the year’s most significant accomplishment. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced three separate ideas at the governor’s State of the State address in January, proposing an increase in the minimum wage, an income-tax cut for families with incomes less than $30,000 and a promise the state would meet its obligation to fund 40 percent of community-college budgets. Only the last has come true so far. Cuomo’s to-do list was by far the longest. How much did he accomplish?

SECOND ROUND OF REGIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AWARDS More than $780 million in grants were parceled out among the nine regional councils last year, but funds were left over from the $1 billion the administration initially set aside for grants funding. The rolled-over $255 million in grants funding has been reappropriated for another year of funding.

Detractors argued for the inclusion of a provision to videotape interrogations, which was ultimately not included in the bill.

“ALL CRIMES” DNA DATABASE Cuomo handily won passage of this bill, which would require all persons convicted of a felony or misdemeanor (with the exception of first-time marijuana possession) to submit a DNA sample to a state database.

NY-SUN INITIATIVE The Cuomo administration announced that the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the New York Power Authority are investing $40 million dollars to promote research into reducing

The Biggest Projects TIER 6 PENSION-REFORM PLAN The governor’s pensionreform plan was passed in a memorable all-night legislative session last March, but the version that made it through both houses of the Legislature was scaled back significantly from the one the administration initially proposed. The initial version would have impacted New York City police and firefighters’ pensions, but the final plan shielded those workforces from any changes. And while the 6

FORECLOSURE RELIEF UNIT The Foreclosure Relief Unit was created within the Real Estate Finance Unit of the state’s Department of Financial Services, and has held mobile seminars to meet with residents about foreclosure.

original version would have given public employees the opportunity to skip over the pension system and choose a 401(k)-style definedcontribution plan, in the final bill defined-contribution plans are available only to workers who earn more than $75,000 and are not union employees. Cuomo had also sought to increase the minimum retirement age to 65 from 62, but succeeded only in raising it to 63. NEW YORK WORKS FUND This proposal, intended to help create private-sector jobs through rebuilding critical parts of the state’s infrastructure, initially included

JULY 16, 2012 | www.cityandstateny.com

overall equipment and installation costs so that in the future solar energy is competitive with other forms of electricity and will require no government subsidies. In addition, the Long Island Power Authority is implementing a program, the first of its kind in the state, to purchase up to 50 megawatts of solar power generated on its customers’ premises. Under this plan the owner of the photovoltaic system is paid a fixed rate by LIPA for every solar kilowatt hour generated over a 20-year term. The targets announced by the governor—to install twice the customer-sited solar capacity in 2012 than was added during 2011, and to quadruple that amount in

plans to leverage 20 privatesector dollars for every public dollar to fund the improvement and repair of more than 100 bridges, 2,000 miles of roads, 90 municipal water systems, 48 state parks and historical sites, and 114 flood-control systems and dams. The administration has released a steady stream of announcements on plans for these improvements, and some, such as parks repair, have already been completed. Larger projects, like repairs to the Tappan Zee Bridge, do not yet have all the necessary funding. ENERGY HIGHWAY This proposal was originally

2013—equate to a 300 percent growth in annual installed customersited capacity in the state within two years. OFFICE FOR NEW AMERICANS The budget establishes an Office for New Americans within the Department of State to help legal permanent residents participate in the state’s economy and civic life. The office will focus on expanding access to English-language education services, promoting U.S. citizenship and civic involvement, and expanding opportunities for new American business owners. MORE SUNY CHALLENGE GRANTS The budget also includes $30 million of capital funding for a new round of the governor’s NYSUNY 2020 challenge grants. When combined with an equal share from SUNY, the university’s 60 campuses (excluding university centers) will compete for three $20 million challenge grants. INCREASE IN FOODSTAMP PARTICIPATION New York is one of six states where the U.S. Department of Agriculture spent $2.5 to $3 million on paid radio advertise-

supposed to use $2 billion in private money to build an energy-highway system that could bring upstate power to the downstate region. In April Cuomo set up his Energy Highway Task Force to solicit proposals from energy companies on how to improve the state’s energy infrastructure. The deadline for those comments was the end of May, and the task force is supposed to release an action plan some time in the fall. BUFFALO’S BILLIONDOLLAR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PACKAGE Details are still scarce on how the state plans to spend the $1 billion investment, with

ments to encourage better participation in the supplemental nutritionalassistance program. ENERGY SAVING IN STATE FACILITIES The New York Power Authority approved $30 million in funding for energy improvements. FARM NY LINKED DEPOSIT PROGRAM EXPANSION and FRESH CONNECT FARMERS’ MARKET The Legislature passed a bill that allows agricultural businesses to qualify for a 3 percent interest-rate subsidy when undertaking projects to expand or improve agricultural operations and create or retain full-time permanent jobs within New York. The administration also began its farmers’ market program with the opening of the 125th Street Fresh Connect Farmers’ Market. MANDATE RELIEF COUNCIL This 11-member body met around the state to get input from local lawmakers on unfunded mandates. In the state budget, the Legislature approved a freeze on local payments for Medicaid and required the state to take over cost increases over a five-year period.

$100 million of the planned support included in the state budget. In late June Empire State Development Corporation announced it would pay $2.8 million to consulting firm McKinsey and Co. to seek the company’s advice on how best to allocate the $1 billion allotted for the Buffalo region. CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO ALLOW CASINO GAMING A constitutional amendment to allow casino gambling passed the Legislature in March this year, but will have to be passed again next year and then approved in a ballot referendum to become law.

CITY&STATE


POLICY BIPARTISAN EDUCATION COMMISSION The governor launched the commission, headed by Time Warner CEO/ chairman Richard Parsons, to put together recommendations on improving students’ performance. The panel, which began meeting in late June, is expected to hold 11 sessions before submitting its policy recommendations to the governor by Dec. 1. NEW MWBE PROGRAM After putting together an MWBE task force in late January, the administration announced a surety-bond assistance program for MWBEs, a new monitoring system and other initiatives to increase the pool of MWBE firms.

NEW YORK EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS OVERHAUL After Hurricane Irene, Cuomo announced plans for a major emergency systems management overhaul. In February he announced plans for the creation of five regional disasterlogistics centers to serve as staging areas and warehouses for emergency equipment, an interagency emergency network to coordinate disaster responses, regional disaster teams to coordinate emergency management between local governments, a statewide network of emergency first responders, a statewide emergencypreparedness conference and the sale of extraneous or outdated emergency equipment.

WHAT DIDN’T GET DONE CONVENTION CENTER Cuomo’s proposal to build a convention center at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens is not technically dead, but Genting, the developer originally slated to have built the center, pulled out of a deal earlier this year, leaving the center’s fate uncertain. The convention center was criticized by some who said it was a shaky peg on which to hang the state’s hopes for generating more revenue, and cited the outer-borough location as too distant for business tourists.

TENANT PROTECTION UNIT A $4.8 million planned investment in a tenant protection unit was stripped from the state’s budget. Cuomo had already appointed Richard R. White, counsel to Cyruli Shanks Hart & Zizmor, as the unit’s leader. It was to be run through the state Homes and Community Renewal division. Cuomo characterized the unit as being able to “enforce landlord obligations to tenants and impose strict penalties for failure to comply” with rent laws.

REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH ACT PASSAGE Passage of the Reproductive Health Act, one of the few pieces of red meat Cuomo threw to the Senate Democratic conference, did not take place during the legislative session. Possibly the bill fell victim to a larger national political conversation about reproductive rights taking place during the Republican presidential primaries.

TAX REFORM AND FAIRNESS COMMISSION With last year’s passage of a tax-cut package that reinstated parts of the millionaires’ tax, the Cuomo administration promised to create a 13-member tax reform and fairness commission to, in part, examine “corporate, sales and personal income taxation and make revenue-neutral policy recommendations to improve the current tax system.” The commission has not yet been created.

JACOB JAVITS CENTER MASTER PLAN The Javits Center redevelopment plan is linked to the future of the proposed Aqueduct convention center, and with that project’s fate in limbo, any proposed makeover of the West Side Javits Center is many years in the future.

CITY&STATE

CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM Despite the formation of two coalitions to reform the state’s campaign-finance laws, the Cuomo administration was unwilling to push for passage of any changes this year, citing the proximity of 2012 elections as a potential roadblock for lawmakers’ willingness to sign on to reforms.

Our Perspective Living Wage Legislation is One Step on Road to Creating Good Jobs By Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, RWDSU, UFCW

W

hen the New York City Council Overrode Mayor Bloomberg’s veto of living wage legislation, they took one step on a long road toward creating better jobs. The legislation established the principle that when public money is used for private development, the public has the right to expect something in return — good jobs that build communities, not low-wage jobs that keep people in poverty.

The living wage movement was born out of a historic coalition put together by the RWDSU. It brought together faith leaders, labor leaders, community leaders and elected officials, all united in the cause to help working New Yorkers, who are hurting as they struggle to earn enough to support themselves and their families. In New York, and throughout America, the gap between rich and poor continues to grow. Corporate greed continues to push a race to the bottom for workers. Just this month, we’ve seen a corporation with huge profits — Con Edison — attack its workers’ pay and benefits, without even pretending that it was necessary for the company’s well being. That’s why we are fighting back and pushing for the creation of good jobs. We saw it with the Living Wage Coalition, and throughout the country, we are seeing it in the RWDSU. The same month the city council overrode the mayor’s living wage veto, in Russellville, Alabama, 1,200 workers at the Pilgrim’s Pride poultry plant overwhelmingly voted to join the RWDSU. It was the largest successful union campaign in Alabama in decades, and it happened because poultry workers — who toil in dangerous conditions for low pay and poor benefits — want to make their jobs better. In New York City, car wash workers are uniting together to say that their jobs — with often illegally low pay and a hazardous environment — can be decent jobs that can help build families and better lives. And, in New York State, the Living Wage Coalition is expanding to fight for a statewide minimum wage increase, so that working people will not be condemned to lives of poverty. Nothing is more important for the future of New York than the creation of good jobs with fair wages.

Visit us on the web at

www.rwdsu.org www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 16, 2012

7


PERSONALITIES

DEPUTY MAYOR FOR

TWITTER Wolfson takes to the Twittersphere to defend the Bloomberg administration

W

hen Mayor Michael Bloomberg is under attack, one trusty weapon in Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson’s arsenal is the tweet. Wolfson, Bloomberg’s deputy mayor for government affairs and communications, has been garnering attention in recent months for taking to the Twittersphere to go after the administration’s critics, from elected officials like Public Advocate Bill de

Blasio to journalists and news outlets like The New York Times. “I think it has the benefit of being unfiltered and immediate, and those are two things that are difficult to find elsewhere,” Wolfson said of his use of Twitter. “Although it limits one to 140 characters, it does give you the freedom to say what you want to say, when you want to say it and speak directly to the audience that is following you.” Wolfson, who has been tweeting for

several years as @howiewolf, said he used the social media website during the 2009 Bloomberg campaign to engage Bill Thompson, the mayor’s Democratic challenger. And like many Twitter users, he regularly mixes in his outside interests (Major League Baseball, Bruce Springsteen) with work-related matters (proposed soda size restrictions, bike lanes). Here’s a selection of his Twitter exchanges. —Jon Lentz

In May Wolfson and de Blasio clashed over the city budget and a new website the public advocate launched that pushes back against teacher layoffs. @BILLDEBLASIO Bill de Blasio RT @nydailynews Public Advocate launches new website that lets parents protest planned teacher la... nydn.us/kogrRI #savenycteachers

@HOWIEWOLF Must have missed the site protesting state Ed cuts @BilldeBlasio @nydailynews PA’s new website to protest ed layoffs. nydn.us/kogrRI

@BILLDEBLASIO @howiewolf Can’t blame state for all layoffs when DOE spending $52mil on tech consltnts $21mil on recruitng & $2.6mil on PR #savenycteachers.

@HOWIEWOLF @BilldeBlasio wish you had been this vocal when state cut us 1b in Ed funds

Also in May, Councilman David Greenfield called attention to the administration’s opposition to requiring bike helmets while pushing soda size restrictions. @NYCGREENFIELD @howiewolf best way to save lives is to use NYPD resources to pull over reckless drivers instead of giving officers parking ticket quotas

@HOWIEWOLF @NYCGreenfield your efforts to convince cyclists that you care about their safety are falling flat online Cyclists know bikelanes save lives

@NYCGREENFIELD @howiewolf It’s amusing that same day the Mayor bans a 20 oz bottle of cola he opposes protecting cyclists by requiring lifesaving helmets

@HOWIEWOLF @NYCGreenfield bike lanes save lives. Do you support them? @HOWIEWOLF . @NYCGreenfield best way to save cyclists lives is to expand bike lanes - More cyclists and separation from cars way to go. Join us!

In mid-June Wolfson tweeted back and forth with journalist Nick Rizzo over the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policies. @NICKRIZZO @howiewolf How do we know Stop Question Frisk is effective if there’s never been a control sample?

8

@HOWIEWOLF @nickrizzo is there a section of the city we should providing police protection to as an experiment?

JULY 16, 2012 | www.cityandstateny.com

@NICKRIZZO @howiewolf So there is a level where a large number of stops of one individual is excessive?

@HOWIEWOLF @nickrizzo depends on individual and his/her activities, no?

(PHOTO: AP)

In January Wolfson got into a spat with The New York Times and its metro editor, Carolyn Ryan, after the newspaper revealed that a poster from the city’s health department depicting a man with diabetes was altered to make it appear that he had lost a leg.

@HOWIEWOLF @NYTMetro curious are the Times subscribers in your ads actual Times subscribers? Because if, gosh, they werent I would be so disillusioned @HOWIEWOLF Still waiting for @NYTMetro to answer if folks in Times ads are actors and if they are whether that says anything about the product/message. @CAROLYNRYAN .@howiewolf I knew this story had legs. NYC public health ads derive power from perception that victims – & health effects shown- are real. @HOWIEWOLF .@carolynryan story was more focused on ads integrity than efficacy – yet correlation btwn sugar drinks and obesity/ diabetes is a fact @CAROLYNRYAN @howiewolf Of course. The photo suggests- vividly – if you drink soda, you lose your leg. Turned out city-not diabetes-sawed off guy’s leg. @HOWIEWOLF My grandmother lost a leg to diabetes. She would not have appeared in an ad. Doesn’t make her loss less real to have it depicted by another

CITY&STATE


CITY&STATE

www.cityandstateny.com | July 16, 2012

9


P O L I CY

After OccUpY With Occupy Albany out of the public eye, liberal legislative goals suffer By Chris Bragg

M

ore than six months after Occupy Albany was uprooted from its encampment near the state Capitol, the group persists, working out of a small storefront on Madison Avenue in downtown Albany. And since being forcibly removed by the city of Albany on Dec. 22, its members admit some aspects of life are now better. “I think it’s a mixed bag,” said one Occupy Albany organizer, Colin Donnaruma. “On one hand the movement has been somewhat diminished. But we also used to spend an enormous amount of time trying to feed ourselves and keep warm.” But most would go back to the old way of living in a minute: The change of location poses a risk for a movement built on the willingness of its participants to risk physical discomfort—and it has diminished the fortunes of liberal allies seeking to capitalize on its political muscle. When Occupy Albany was uprooted, the movement was at its zenith; two weeks earlier Gov. Andrew Cuomo had agreed to an overhaul of the state’s tax code that looked a lot like the “millionaires’ tax” that liberal, often union-backed interest groups had sought to extend for the prior two years. Many involved, or at least those willing to speak about the sudden reversal, credited the political momentum created by the spontaneous uprising. Those involved with Occupy Albany say that the compelling narrative created by a group of people risking physical harm in the dead of winter—and the sheer excitement of the movement’s underlying illegality—has been impossible to recreate. And as the Occupy movement has ceased to fill the public consciousness, progressive activists say it has become more difficult to create momentum for the 99 percent’s agenda. “Occupy Albany was fierce in its advocacy for the minimum wage, but there’s absolutely not the ability to attract the same great numbers of people or to have an encampment that generates 24/7 media coverage,” said Michael Kink, the executive director of the union-backed Strong Economy for All Coalition. “And I’m not sure there’s any sort of switch that you could turn on or off.” 10

JULY 16, 2012 | www.cityandstateny.com

The effort to hike the state’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.50 was perhaps the best example of Occupy’s impact on the legislative agenda, with a coalition behind it that was very similar to the one that pushed for an extension of the millionaires’ tax. During this year’s movement to raise the minimum wage, Occupy activists in early June stormed the office of Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, whose conference refused to take up the minimum-wage bill. A resulting six arrests brought a flurry of media coverage, but nothing close to the sustained drumbeat at the original Occupy Albany or of Zuccotti Park. Where once lawmakers could be educated at “teach-ins,” Occupy organizers have grown frustrated that their stunts—like presenting Cuomo with a giant check to parody the $2 million that the Committee to Save New York took from the gambling industry—have had to get more and more creative simply to gain a little attention. The media moved on to other stories, with coverage shifting to the Republican presidential nomination

contest nationally, and to other legislative battles in New York. As a result, the pressure that prodded both Cuomo and Senate Republicans into backing last year’s overhaul creating a higher tax bracket for high-income earners seems to have diminished. Ultimately the minimumwage bill never got the Senate

“there needs to be something to rally attention around issues.” floor, with forces on both the second or third floors apparently less concerned about the movement’s long-term staying power or its ability to translate its message to the ballot box. For Occupiers, the plan is to keep pushing the same issues of class and corporate corruption. Unlike the Tea Party, which has always had an element of Astroturf to it, no real electoral movement from Occupy has sprung forth. And for their liberal allies, the challenge is to harness the resonance of the movement toward an electoral political

(Above) An Occupy Albany protester cleans out a tent before relocating it to another part of Academy Park in Albany, N.Y., on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011. (PhOTO: AP/Mike GrOll)

system, which the Occupiers have no real interest in engaging. Doug Forand, a Democratic political consultant who has been heavily involved in both union issue advocacy and Senate Democratic campaign efforts, said the hopeful sign for progressives is that the agenda pushed by Occupy activists resonated broadly—even if the issues at hand are no longer being constantly put forth by the media. Forand predicted that raising the minimum wage could well be part of a broad postelection deal tied to legislators’ pay raises— a deal more in classic Albany fashion than Occupiers would ever hope to strike. Still, if such a deal were made, it would be because the minimum-wage issue had become a toxic one for Senate Republicans at the ballot box in November, Forand said. “It will be because they need to release a pressure value on that particular issue,” Forand said. “There needs to be something to rally attention around issues. And you’re going to see elections doing that.” But for Occupiers, the idea of trading a legislative pay raise for a minimum wage is a crass one. “We don’t engage in that type of traditional lobbying or trading,” Donnaruma said. “We have clear issues, and we present them.”

CITY&STATE


CITY&STATE

www.cityandstateny.com | July 16, 2012

11


PERSONALITIES seems to have a piece of the Coney Island boardwalk—California, Detroit, everywhere!” Guitar from “Hippiefest” “I organize concerts in Coney Island every year and this one is from ‘Hippiefest.’ They gave me a guitar.” Rug with the Borough of Brooklyn Seal “When I became borough president in 2002, I called an artist from Park Slope who made rugs and asked her to make me a rug with the Brooklyn logo—and this is what she did. She took about six months.” Brooklyn Nets jersey prototype “This is not their official jersey. It’s from a press conference in Borough Hall in 2004 when the team was purchased. This was before the opposition, before the lawsuits.”

(PHOTOS: JONATHAN SPRINGER)

FROM THE DESK OF...

MARTY MARKOWITZ Marty Markowitz first became a state senator in 1978 and was elected Brooklyn borough president in 2001. Over that time he’s accumulated a lot of stuff: shovels from ground-breakings, embroidered jerseys, alcohol and collectables from his beloved Brooklyn Dodgers. Markowitz’s favorite objects lean toward the nostalgic and the sports-related, but he waxes most emotional about his pet bird, “Beep,” an African gray parakeet. He keeps several photos of Beep on his desk, next to his wife and family. A piece of cable from the Brooklyn Bridge “That was from the original Brooklyn Bridge. I have no idea when I got that. [He examines the item, which is dated.] 1998, that’s when I got it. That is an original.” Ebbets Field home plate “It’s not mine. It’s only good until I get out of office. Then it goes back to Fred Palm. He stole it with his friends in 1956. 12

two seats. You will note, by the way, how much thinner we were back then.”

Security was different back then.” Ebbets Field wooden chairback seats “I exchanged two Yankees’ seats for these

JULY 16, 2012 | www.cityandstateny.com

Nathan’s deli, framed picture “These photos represent Brooklyn and me. Nathan’s, Abraham & Straus, Ebinger’s Bakery, the Mill Basin Deli, which is still there, Brennan & Carr— they have the best

roast beef.” Coney Island boardwalk slab “In 2000 they started repairing the boardwalk, and they cut a few slabs out. Everyone else

Barclays Center ground-breaking shovel “They keep giving me shovels. I tell you, when I get out of here in the next year, that’s the first thing that goes.” Alcohol made in Brooklyn “There’s Absolut Brooklyn, one of the few cities the company named a vodka after. The rest I got has been consumed by now.” Barack Obama bobblehead doll “The Brooklyn Cyclones were giving out bobbleheads of the president.” Leather briefcase “The bag I started using on January 1, 1979 when I was first elected. It has been repaired at least three

times. It’s not as if I can’t afford a leather bag, but it’s been a part of me through 11 terms in the State Senate, and three terms here. It’s part of my DNA. I’ve kept it and repaired it as best I can, but you can only do so much.” Photo of Beep, Marty’s parakeet “He’s 11 years old. He’s got a vocabulary of 100 words. They are the most brilliant pets that you can own. A parrot can understand the words we make. He’s an African gray parrot. My bird does not have feathers. I

have a plucker. This bird belonged to my wife’s mother and father, and when they died, three months apart, that’s when the plucking began. I think he missed his original parents.” City & State: Can he say “fuggedaboudit”? Marty: Yes, he does. All the time. I have it on tape.

CITY&STATE


CITY&STATE

www.cityandstateny.com | July 16, 2012

13


COV E R STO RY

WhY coULd have it aLL By Morgan PehMe

14

JULY 16, 2012 | www.cityandstateny.com

CITY&STATE


COV E R STO RY

Our Economic Resurgence Can’t Depend on Foreign Electricity By Jack Friedman Queens is in the middle of an economic resurgence and across the borough diverse projects are creating jobs, housing and recreational opportunities for New Yorkers. From Long Island City to Far Rockaway, the borough is buzzing with new economic opportunities. To capitalize on these opportunities, it's important that steps are taken to keep our region's electricity affordable and reliable so that Queens can continue the upward trajectory.

K

irsten Gillibrand is currently enjoying a career trajectory comparable to only a select few American politicians in recent memory—the most notable of whom occupies a certain Oval Office she’s already being discussed as a viable contender for in 2016. Just a few years ago, such rumblings would have gration and gay marriage when she moved from the been unthinkable. When Gov. David Paterson plucked House to the Senate. While Gillibrand has long since Gillibrand out of relative obscurity to fill the enor- outlasted this initial dustup of bad press to become mous shoes of Hillary Clinton, she had served a mere a darling of progressives, it is worth noting that her two years in Congress—and had never even run for ability to adapt, once derided as a lack of principle, has become one of her greatest assets in winning office prior to getting elected to the House. Two and a half years later, Gillibrand, 45, has a over the diverse constituencies she represents across 60 percent approval rating statewide and is well on the state. Polished and petite, wholesome yet worldly, eager her way to carving out her own national profile, with a headline-grabbing record of legislative achievement yet effortless in her manner, Gillibrand looks as if over her brief time in office, including the 9/11 health she would fit in as easily at a North Country dairy as bill and the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” She has a Nassau County mall or a highfalutin salon on the stood out as one of the nation’s most ardent advo- Upper East Side. Indeed, as we sat down for lunch at cates for women in politics and built a network of a trendy lower Manhattan Chinese restaurant with a admirers as one of the Democratic Party’s most formidable fundraisers. Tina Brown has hailed her as “a total winner,” Gloria Steinem has said of Gillibrand, “Like Jon Stewart has gushed over Bella Abzug and Shirley Chisholm before her on The Daily Show, Vogue has extolled her glamour in her, she doesn’t just hold her finger to the a tasteful spread, and no less wind, she is the wind.” a feminist icon than Gloria Steinem has said of Gillibrand, “Like Bella Abzug and Shirley Chisholm before her, faux-farmhouse decor, it occurred to me that Gillishe doesn’t just hold her finger to the wind, she is brand, who is both conversant in Mandarin and a self-styled champion of farmers as New York’s first the wind.” The response to Gillibrand was not always so member of the Senate Agriculture Committee in 40 effusive. When Paterson initially selected her, the years, was probably one of the few people who could choice was generally panned, in part because of his pull off looking in her element in the oddly discordant bungling of Caroline Kennedy’s bid for the seat, and atmosphere. In light of the senator’s remarkable success, it further fueled by the public grumblings of those who felt passed over for the post and the political power- seemed only appropriate to ask her what she thought houses perturbed it was not their pick who had been of Anne-Marie Slaughter’s provocative cover story in the most recent Atlantic Monthly: “Why Women anointed. In the blink of a media cycle, Gillibrand went from Still Can’t Have It All.” In the piece Slaughter, the being dismissed as a no-name to being disparaged former director of public planning at the U.S. State from both the right and the left as a “flip-flopper” Department and the first female dean of Princeton’s for apparent shifts on issues like gun control, immi- Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, offers her two-years’ experience working in the unyielding, high-intensity world of Washington (Above) Supporters unfurl a Gillibrand politics—while struggling to balance her home life reelection banner. (Photo:Andrew SchwArtz) (opposite as a mother of two adolescent boys—as a paradigm page) Gillibrand in her Senate office in of why women can’t have the proverbial “all” in the washington, d.c. (Photo: AAron clAmAGe)

CITY&STATE

The New York City Regional Economic Council is examining two proposals now that could profoundly change perceptions about the borough — the Queens Greenway Park and a 12 acre waterfront development called the Anable Basin Tech incubator. The incubator can create 600 jobs and 65,000 square feet of work and classroom space. The Greenway project will create new walking and biking trails, cultural, retail and community space. Major League Soccer is exploring the borough as the new home for an expansion team. A professional stadium and athletic complex in Flushing Meadows would benefits thousands of residents who enjoy the sport and are seeking seasonal work opportunities. A 400,000 square foot convention center is proposed for Willets Point, while Aqueduct raceway now hosts Resorts World, an incredible gaming and entertainment facility. With Governor Andrew Cuomo intending to release an RFP for proposal for casinos in New York, both sites present opportunities. The area from Downtown Flushing to the waterfront and College Point Boulevard are set to undergo major transformations including affordable housing, parks, entertainment and cultural spaces. It sounds like a great master plan, lacking only a blueprint for the availability of affordable energy. While we in Queens are working hard to create jobs and building our economy, our state and city policy makers clearly need to commit to creating more in-state power generation and expansion of our energy distribution infrastructure. Any energy highway planned must prioritize power generated in New York as opposed to allowing our state to become dependent on neighboring states and Canada. The Queens Chamber filed opposition to the Champlain Hudson Power Express line earlier this year to the Public Service Commission because the project could lead to higher electricity costs and fewer jobs for New York State. Ceding all of New York's power production to out of state operators will only harm our growth. Queens, and indeed New York State, are on an economic upswing. We need affordable and reliable electricity to keep up the economic momentum. Jack Friedman is the Executive Director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce representing over 1,000 members representing almost 500,000 employees.

S P E C I A L

S P O N S O R E D

S E C T I O N

The New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance (New York AREA) is a diverse group of business, labor, environmental, and community leaders working together for clean, low-cost and reliable electricity solutions that foster prosperity and jobs for the Empire State. W W W. A R E A - A L L I A N C E . O R G www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 16, 2012

15


COV E R STO RY legislator, it was still tantamount to “political suicide” to miss the annual dinner of Noonan’s Women’s Club. Gillibrand is fully aware of what Noonan achieved in a male-dominated society, a trailblazing path she attributes to her grandmother’s passionate belief in the collective power of women and the effectiveness of what we today call grassroots activism: “[The Women’s Democratic Club] were the ones who did the door-to-door work. They were the ones who did the envelope stuffing. They were the ones who ran campaigns for 50 years…. Nobody really got elected if they didn’t have the blessing of my grandmother and all her lady friends, because they did all the work!” The senator has internalized her grandmother’s example. I recount that when I interviewed Sean Gavin, her current campaign manager, he recited for me the motto she had instilled in her team throughout her 2008 race against Alexander “Sandy” Treadwell, the former chair of the state GOP, who had vowed to use his fortune as an heir to General Electric to unseat her. Before I can finish, Gillibrand springs to complete the motto: “You can be outspent, but you can never be outworked!” Winning bY ExamplE

Unites States today. Though Gillibrand is publicly a politician, she plays countless other roles behind the scenes. She is the mother of two young boys, and gave birth to her second son, Henry, following a 13-hour marathon House Armed Services Committee hearing. A fiercely competitive former collegiate athlete, she pitches for the bipartisan congressional women’s softball team and recently chronicled in Self magazine how her return to sports helped her lose 40 pounds since entering the Senate. She’s an enthusiastic homemaker who still finds time to bake. And she’s the devoted wife of a dashing British financier who seems content to play second fiddle to his superstar spouse and pull his weight with the kids. Given this bounty, was it not unreasonable to conclude that if any woman’s life poked holes in the article’s deflating premise, it was hers? “I agreed with a lot that she said,” responds Gillibrand, who had read Slaughter’s analysis and taken it seriously. “But she made a couple caveats, and one of them applies to me. If you can set your own schedule, that makes such a difference. You know, the ladies who work in this restaurant can’t set their schedules. The lady that cleans my office every night can’t set her schedule. The lady in the emergency room, the nurse who’s trying to save lives, can’t necessarily set her schedule. But I can. I have a flexibility that’s unique, because I run my own office. I can not take meetings before 9 in the morning so I can bring my kids to school. I can limit meetings between 5 and 7, so I can pick them up from school, make them dinner, and put them to bed…. So I’m lucky.” Pivoting from personal experience to the larger struggle facing women in America, as she often does, Gillibrand says, “I think her thesis was more ‘This issue needs to be debated and discussed in every boardroom, in every economic forum, in every hall of power, because what’s being lost are important voices,’ and that’s why I launched my ‘Off the Sidelines’ campaign”—the initiative Gillibrand started in June of last year to enlist more women to participate in politics. “I want to create a call to action nationwide to ask women to make sure their voices are heard,” she continues. “I want them voting if they’re not voting. I want them to be leaning in on the issues they care about. I want them to be holding their elected leaders accountable.” 16

JULY 16, 2012 | www.cityandstateny.com

RiVETing WOmEn If this sounds like a muscle-flexing “We Can Do It!” call to female empowerment, the echo is not completely unintentional. Gillibrand is such a fan of the iconic 1940s image that it adorns the cover of her iPhone, and she uses it as rhetorical shorthand to evoke the spirit of her aims. “It’s a lot like what Rosie the Riveter was during World War II,” she notes. “They were asking America’s women to enter the workforce for the first time in America’s history…. And women responded…. Six million women entered the workforce. So my goal is, I want six million more women voting who are aren’t voting today.” Gillibrand’s connection to Rosie is more than aspirational—it’s generational. During the war, both Gillibrand’s great-grandmother and her great-aunt donned blue jeans at a time when women hadn’t ever previously done so and went to work in an armory—as did her grandmother, Dorothea “Polly” Noonan. For anyone with a long enough memory for state politics, Polly Noonan’s name is legendary. As the secretary

In retrospect it is less astonishing that a candidate of Gillibrand’s discipline and innate grasp of campaigning could trounce Treadwell by 24 points—despite being targeted early in the cycle as one of the state’s most vulnerable freshmen and outspent $5.5 million to $3.5 million in one of the most expensive House races in the country. Gillibrand’s electoral success—at 3 for 3, she has never been defeated—has made her the most compelling poster model for her own “Off the Sidelines” campaign. “I have such tremendous respect for her, coming from a district not unlike mine, where she overcame a strong Republican enrollment advantage, and through sheer grit, determination and hard work, she overcame the odds in her race,” says Rep. Kathy Hochul, whom Gillibrand supported in Hochul’s upset 2011 special-election victory for Congress. “And so when I took on this opportunity that came up last year…she coached me, talked to me, gave me a lot of advice. She’s just been a great friend.” Hochul is one of an all-star roster of nearly two dozen female House and Senate candidates Gillibrand has lent not only her name and expertise but to whom she has given a minimum of $1,000 either personally or through her Empire PAC—thus cultivating a legion of grateful elected officials spanning the country, from Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama, who in 2010 became the first African-

“Nobody really got elected if they didn’t have the blessing of my grandmother and all her lady friends, because they did all the work!”

and closest confidant to Albany’s “mayor for life,” Erastus Corning 2nd, who ruled over the city from 1941 to 1983, Noonan made herself one of the most powerful women in the history of the Capitol. By the time Gov. Mario Cuomo was in office, Noonan was the vice chairwoman of the Democratic State Committee, as well as the longtime president of the Albany Democratic Women’s Club. Those titles may not adequately articulate the extent of her influence; Jerry Kremer, who represented Long Island for 23 years in the Assembly, recalls that when he was a young

(Above) Gillibrand marching in this year’s Gay Pride parade in Manhattan. (Photo: Andrew SchwArtz)

American woman elected to the House from her state, to Rep. Tammy Baldwin, who is currently running to become both Wisconsin’s first female and the nation’s first openly gay senator. While the cynical might conclude that Gillibrand is shrewdly building a nationwide network of prominent allies to lay the groundwork for future aspirations, the preponderance of evidence makes a convincing case that her commitment to advancing the political power of women is just as fervent as was her grandmother’s. Gillibrand has even extended this spirit of sisterly solidarity to her Republican colleagues—with striking results. “Every time I’ve ever accomplished anything in Congress, I’ve always had the help of other women [from] both sides

CITY&STATE


COV E R STO RY

A Lot Riding on Mass Transit By Donald Cecil

Mass transportation systems around the world aim to keep fares as economical as possible. The New York City-area is no different. Riders want and deserve the best service at the lowest price – and in order to keep those prices down, we have to have a reliable stream of affordable electricity. From platform lights to air conditioned subway cars, affordable and reliable electricity plays a critical role in keeping the region’s public transportation systems going. As we make a national transition to electricity as a transportation fuel, an unprecedented integration of our transportation and electricity industries will also take place. Supply chains developed for an expanding electric transportation sector will lead to the creation of high valued jobs and boost New York’s economic competitiveness.

of the aisle,” Gillibrand says. “So when we were trying to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ it’s not surprising that it was [Maine’s] Susan Collins leading the charge among Republicans to get those few Republican votes. When I’m trying to pass the 9/11 health bill, it wasn’t surprising that [Alaska’s] Lisa Murkowski went into her caucus meetings every week saying, ‘Why are we not standing with first responders?’ ” Currently Gillibrand is focused on trying to pass three pieces of economic-relief legislation she is championing—a small-business bill, an infrastructure bank, and a Made-in-the-USA manufacturing bill. To build bipartisan support, she started by going to the female senators. The approach has gotten traction. The smallbusiness bill might come up for a vote, thanks to 14 of the 17 women senators signing onto a letter asking the leadership on both sides of the aisle to bring it to the floor. OffiCE POliTiCS

“I was proud of the fact that it didn’t take the article for our office to have been working on those issues all along,” says Elana Broitman, 45, the mother of a 5-year-old and Gillibrand’s senior advisor for armedservices work and foreign affairs. Because of these changes, observes Jawando, she and her colleagues may not necessarily “have it all,” but it “start[s] to make a difference, and you really give yourself an opportunity for success. And success looks very different for our office than what it may look like in another office.” Karina Cabrera, 33, one of Gillibrand’s legislative assistants, concurs. “When I was 24 I would have said, ‘I can’t have it all. I’m not going to get married or I’m not going to have children. I’m just going to concentrate on my career.’ Now that I’m married…it’s about your partner and having a great relationship and a balance. And it’s also your employer. And obviously

“Every time I’ve ever accomplished

When I speak with several anything in Congress, I’ve always had the members of Gillibrand’s staff a help of other women [from] both few weeks after our interview, sides of the aisle.” I discover—not surprisingly— that “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” is a hot topic of discussion in the senator’s office. Sixty-five percent of we have such a great, amazing role model that has it Gillibrand’s staff is female, and seven of the 10 senior all and really helps us to achieve that as well, so I think positions in her office are held by women—four of we’re in a really unique, special situation.” That Gillibrand concentrates on not only how she whom have young children. Michele Jawando, Gillibrand’s general counsel, who can “have it all” but how her employees can too has is currently pregnant with her second child, explains inspired fierce devotion from her staff. “We feel a that from the outset of the senator’s term, Gillibrand sense of pride and loyalty for the type of work that we took deliberate steps to create a workplace culture do,” enthuses Jawando. “And so the fact that…[Gillithat would be reflective of her values. She started by brand] both respected our work but also respected overhauling the office manual, making changes like these roles that we had, whether it was as a new wife, allowing her staff three months paid leave and giving or as a new mom, or as someone dealing with the issue them more flexibility to perform their work remotely of aging parents, that means a lot, and…it also makes by computer or BlackBerry—provided, of course, that you even more loyal to the work that you’re doing, because you’re like, ‘You know what? I have someone it did not compromise the quality of their work. who is going to support me, so I need to make sure when I’m here that I’m on 110 percent.’ ” Gillibrand understands that her views on how (Above) Gillibrand greets the public. (Photo: Andrew women should properly be treated in the workplace— SchwArtz)

CITY&STATE

This future will ultimately lead to an increase in demand for electricity. As more residential and commercial consumers plug-in electric vehicles (or iPads for that matter), more power will be pulled during off-peak hours. Large, baseload power sources like Indian Point will play a vital role in ensuring that New York has the electricity it needs to meet growing demand. Indian Point’s continued operation is essential to the expansion of New York’s electric transportation system: The plant supplies nearly 30 percent of New York City’s electricity already. Because that power is emissionsfree, it is the most appropriate energy source for our electric-vehicle fleet. Additionally, its stable, baseload power helps the grid integrate future wind and solar electricity by balancing the intermittent nature of those sources. With millions of people commuting across our region for work every day, our transportation system must be forwardlooking – our state and local economy depends on it.

Donald Cecil is the Vice-Chair of the Purchase College Foundation, the Finance Chair of the Center for Educational Innovation, President of the Jandon Foundation, Chairman of the Westchester County Transportation Board, and a former MTA Board member.

S P E C I A L

S P O N S O R E D

S E C T I O N

New York AREA’s membership includes some of the state’s most vital business, labor and community organizations including the New York State AFL-CIO, Business Council of New York State, Partnership for New York City, New York Building Congress, National Federation of Independent Business and many more. W W W. A R E A - A L L I A N C E . O R G www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 16, 2012

17


AUGUST 9TH Hunter College, 68th Street Campus Room 714W Lecture Hall City & State will be hosting a workshop forum titled The Art of Advocacy. Joining us will be top consultants, advertising minds and politicos — such as Evan Stavisky, Marissa Shorenstein, Justin Krebs, Morgan Pehme and others — to offer insight into the world of issue advocacy advertising and communications.

Programming: Registration – 7:30 am – 8:00 am Networking Breakfast – 8:00 am – 9:00 am Discussion – 9:00 am – 10:30 am (followed by brief audience Q&A)

Follow the conversation at the forum using hashtag #ArtofAdvocacy

For more information regarding these and all other City & State events contact us at 646-442-1662 or jfreeman@cityandstateny.com. 18 July 16, 2012 | www.cityandstateny.com

CITY&STATE


COV E R STO RY ebullient praise of the governor, it appears highly unlikely that Gillibrand would challenge Cuomo in a theoretical primary were he to run for president in 2016, as is widely thought he will. “I think the governor’s done a great job,” says Gillibrand, in just the type of sound bite that largely diffuses any possibility she would take him on in an all-out internecine battle. “I’m extremely impressed with his ability.” Over four years out from that election—which will occur countless earthchanging events from now—it is senseless to pretend predictions about 2016 are anything more than hot air. And long before any such scenarios can begin to be seriously considered, Gillibrand must first defeat her current Republican challenger, Wendy Long, to earn her first full six-year term in the Senate. maKinG HiSTORY

and men too, for that matter—are unconventional, but she is not one to be deterred by orthodoxy. Describing her senatorial style, Gillibrand says, “I try to approach my job in a very nonpartisan way. It doesn’t have to be a Democratic idea. It doesn’t have to be a Republican idea. It just has to be a good idea.” Jawando puts it another way: “When we got here, [Gillibrand] was like, ‘Don’t worry about it. Don’t pay attention to anybody. We’re going to do our thing.’ ” GillibRand 2016? The absolutely baseless speculation about Gillibrand running for President of the United States in 2016 appears to date back to March of this year when The Washington Post threw up a “Sweet 2016” March Madness-style tournament bracket on its blog for readers to project the major-party nominees in the next presidential cycle. (The media, already bored with 2012, has impatiently moved on to 2015, as YNN’s Liz Benjamin observed.) In a highly unscientific poll, the Post arbitrarily named Gillibrand the sixth seed out of the eight national Democrats they

(Above) Gillibrand has a lot to smile about these days. (Photo: Andrew SchwArtz)

CITY&STATE

selected as candidates for the left wing of the bracket. Around that time a Facebook page reinforcing the notion of Gillibrand 2016 surfaced, which may or may not have played a role in Gillibrand surpassing expectations in the Post’s fantasy election, defeating No. 3 seed Gov. Deval Patrick of Massachusetts to get into the quarterfinals before losing in the semis to Hillary Clinton. Thus the hype was born. In real life, Gillibrand would be more

Conservative bloggers have snickered at the cosmic justice of Gillibrand, the outspoken advocate for women to run for office, drawing a female opponent. But what has received less attention is that their matchup means that Gillibrand and Long will share in a small step forward for women in politics: the first all-female statewide election in New York State history. The accomplishment—only the seventh all-female U.S. Senate race in the nation’s history—deserves recognition. Though New York is generally thought of as one of the country’s most liberal states, its Legislature currently ranks a mere 31st in the nation, with its 22.2 percent female membership, according to the Center for American Women and Politics of Rutgers University. The ratio of women to men in the state congressional delegation is higher—9 out of 29—but with reapportionment the overall number of seats will soon be 27, and the most fiercely contested congressional races in the state this November disproportionately involve female incumbents. Though New York has had four female statewide executives—Secretary of State

“Success looks very different for our office than what it may look like in another office.” than happy if it were in her power to cede the nomination to Hillary Clinton, whom she credits as inspiring her to run for Congress, and whom Gillibrand has publicly urged on numerous occasions to again seek the presidency. “I have not lost hope that Hillary will run in 2016,” Gillibrand says. “I’d like to be her national chair and help her win.” Still, it was Gov. Andrew Cuomo, not Hillary Clinton, whom Post readers chose as their Democratic nominee and ultimately the president in 2016 (over Florida Senator Marco Rubio). Based upon her

Florence E.S. Knapp, in the 1920s, and three lieutenant governors, Mary Anne Krupsak, Betsy McCaughey Ross and Mary O. Donohue—the state, unlike New Jersey and Connecticut, has never had a female governor, comptroller or attorney general; a woman has never been the head of either house of the Legislature; and though it is harder to imagine now given the attention Hillary Clinton received over her eight years in office, it wasn’t until her victory in 2000 that New York elected its first female senator. Considering the deep ideological

chasm between them, Gillibrand and Long have a surprising amount in common besides the historic milestone they share. Both candidates are mothers of two. Both are Roman Catholics; Long teaches the catechism, while Gillibrand taught a Bible class for kids. Each was an undergraduate at Dartmouth, Long in the class of ’82, Gillibrand the class of ’88. Each clerked for Reagan-appointed judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit: Long for Ralph K. Winter; Gillibrand for Roger Miner. And both ultimately went on to successful legal careers at high-powered white-shoe law firms in Manhattan—Gillibrand for Davis Polk & Wardwell; Long for Kirkland & Ellis. But there the parallels end. Long, a staunch Conservative, will spend the coming months emphasizing the differences between herself and Gillibrand, to whom she refers as “the most liberal Senator in America”—a title that has been affixed to Gillibrand by her GOP critics since the conservative National Journal branded her with the distinction in February (she tied for first with Oregon’s Jeff Merkley). It also appears that Long will relentlessly tie Gillibrand to the president, the economy and “Obamacare”—a strategy uncertain to prove effective in enough regions of the state to overcome Gillibrand’s personal popularity. For now the starkest distinction between the two candidates is the respective size of their war chests. In the Republican primary, Long struggled to raise money and started the general-election stretch with little cash in reserve. Gillibrand, by contrast, has an eye-popping $10.5 million in the bank and a juggernaut fundraising organization to keep raking in money. (If you’re on her email list, as I am, you’re used to receiving urgent solicitations for must-reach dollar plateaus more frequently than can credibly be deemed “urgent.”) Long could conceivably end up the beneficiary of mind-boggling amounts of Super PAC money, of course. Yet until the national Republican leadership decides she can make this Election Day a closer contest than the party’s 2010 nominee, Joseph DioGuardi—whom Gillibrand crushed 65 to 35 percent, carrying 54 of New York’s 62 counties—it is unlikely that many dollars will come in for Long. Even so, Gillibrand is cautious not to take her reelection for granted, going out of her way to stress that her goal is to remain in the Senate for “as long as possible.” What if she does win in November, and the right set of circumstances came along in 2016? Would she? Could she? Gillibrand is amused by the suggestion, so long as her stated intentions to the contrary are clear. About the speculation Gillibrand allows, “It’s very kind. And of course it’s very flattering. I appreciate people’s confidence.” Does that mean one day Kirsten Gillibrand could have it all? If you ask her, she already does. www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 16, 2012

19


E V E N TS

Lessons from the pros City & State’s “Candidate College” draws who’s who of Western New York politicians and media for its faculty

O

n June 16 a host of heavy hitters in local politics, some of the state’s top campaign strategists, and a roomful of current and aspiring candidates converged on the YWCA of Western New York for City & State’s first-ever event in Buffalo. The all-day nonpartisan “Candidate College” was intended to teach citizens of all backgrounds, ages and political beliefs how to mount a serious bid for elected office by providing an honest, educated and unvarnished view of the current state of electoral politics and illuminating the pitfalls that often ensnare first-time candidates. The event, which began with a video greeting from U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and introductory remarks from former State Sen. Mary Lou Rath, consisted of five separate panel discussions with real-world experts in the field, each concentrating on a different aspect of campaign craft, from fundraising to getting out the vote and everything in between. A panel of local elected officials, including State Sen. Mark Grisanti, Syracuse Common Councilor at Large Helen Hudson and Erie County Legislator Kevin Hardwick, explained how they successfully won their seats. Congresswoman Kathy Hochul also stopped by to share her experience on the campaign trail. The media panel, which was moderated by City & State Editor Morgan Pehme, featured Margaret Sullivan, the editor in chief of the Buffalo News, Artvoice editor Geoff Kelly, and longtime local television reporter–turned–current candidate for Erie County comptroller, Stefan Mychajliw, talking about how journalists cover races and what candidates need to do to get the attention of the press. Among the event’s other prominent presenters and moderators were Common Cause New York Executive Director Susan Lerner, national political consultant Roger Stone, Red Horse Strategies founding partner Doug Forand, Prime New York’s Jerry Skurnik, Erie County Republican Party chair Nick Langworthy and former Deputy County Executive Carl Calabrese. A number of notable students also attended the training session, anxious to learn new campaigning skills or brush up on old ones, including Perrysburg Town Court Justice Lori Dankert, Administrative Law Judge Paul V. Crapsi Jr. and Bernie Tolbert, the former special agent in charge of the Buffalo FBI, who is widely rumored to be mulling a challenge to Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. City & State’s “Candidate College” was cosponsored by the New York Policy Forum, the Partnership for the Public Good, New York Civic, and the YWCA of Western New York. The Buffalo event was the second in a series of Candidate Colleges that City & State will be staging across New York. If you are interested in cosponsoring a “Candidate College” with City & State in your region, please write to editor@cityandstateny.com.

20

JULY 16, 2012 | www.cityandstateny.com

An aspiring candidate asks one of the Candidate College’s experts for campaign advice.

Top campaign consultants (from left): Doug Forand; Roger Stone and Jerry Skurnik.

Udae. Feriosam enim

Udae. Feriosam enim Erie County Legislator Kevin Hardwick at mic, with State Sen. Mark Grisanti and Syracuse Common Councilor at Large Helen Hudson. Inset: Congresswoman Kathy Hochul.

CITY&STATE


S P OT L I G H T : M AS S T R A N S P O R TAT I O N

HaggLing over tHe

tappan zee By Jon Lentz

S

ince Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he would rebuild the Tappan Zee Bridge, the project has elicited a flood of criticism from local officials feeling left out of the loop, transportation advocates demanding more mass transit and commuters bracing for toll hikes. But after a decade of study and the bridge’s continued deterioration—not to mention millions of dollars for its upkeep—the governor is pushing back and making the case for a new $5 billion bridge. “We need to build a new bridge and we need to build it now, and this is no time for gridlock when it comes to building a new bridge,” said Lawrence Schwartz, the secretary to the governor, who recently took a lead role on the project. “The bridge that currently exists is obsolete,

Cuomo administration pushes back on criticism of its plans for a new bridge a safety hazard and a chokehold on our economy. A new bridge will be safe. It can not only handle the current capacity but it can also handle future growth. It will be a transit-ready bridge.” So far Schwartz has focused on winning over Rockland County Executive Scott Vanderhoef and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, both of whom have been outspoken in calling for changes and for more details. Schwartz has made progress already. After it was announced that the bridge would have dedicated bus lanes during rush hour, Vanderhoef agreed with the governor, saying last week it would be too costly to add more mass transit immediately. That has put the heat on Astorino, whom Schwartz suggests is driven

Yet Ned McCormack, a spokesman for by politics. Astorino, a Republican, is Astorino, laid the blame with the Cuomo frequently mentioned as a potential administration, saying the impasse goes gubernatorial candidate. back to April, when “The problem Astorino’s office with Rob is he started reaching out. has been totally “Some of those inconsistent with conversations were his position on the between Larry bridge,” Schwartz Schwartz and the said, adding that he The Tappan Zee deputy county had called Astorino executive to set three times and Bridge was opened something up, and hadn’t heard back. to traffic in 1955. we haven’t gotten “Scott [Vanderany response to hoef] had asked for a that,” McCormack meeting, and within said. “It’s true that Larry called this week, 40 hours I was sitting in his office,” Schwartz but the genesis of the calls was to set added. “We had a very good meeting, and something up with the governor and the we’re working together, as I plan on working county executive, and we haven’t heard together with everyone else.”

E-ZFact

BREAKFAST SERIES THURSDAY JULY 19, 2012 Club 101 – 101 Park Avenue, NYC Breakfast & Program 8:00am – 9:30am City & State Editor Morgan Pehme Sits down with

New York State Comptroller THOMAS DINAPOLI Follow the conversation using the hashtag #NewsMakersBreakfast

CITY&STATE

Presented By

www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 16, 2012

21


S P OT L I G H T : M ASS T R A N S P O R TAT I O N about setting up that meeting.” McCormack insisted that Astorino called for a bus rapid-transit component, even a modest one, to be included from the start. Astorino, who has proposed a bus corridor between the Palisades and either Tarrytown or White Plains, considered the rush-hour lanes a good first step. “The beginning part is important, because they’ve talked about a capability, but we believe that if there isn’t some commitment, something real from the very beginning, the likelihood of being able to follow through on it is close to zero,” McCormack said. “And again, this can be just dedicated bus lanes. We’re not looking for anything way blown-out.” Of course, much of the debate has centered on the scope of any new transit system. The Cuomo administration has said mass transit would double the cost, but others say the figures are inflated and that something less than a full 30-mile corridor would be more affordable—and even doable. Jeff Zupan, a transit expert at the Regional Plan Association, said the exact cost of building the bridge strong enough to support rail travel in the future—an

(Above) The debate over a new Tappan Zee Bridge has centered on mass transit and costs. (PhoTo: DAniel S. BurnSTein)

element of the project that could potentially be omitted—is unclear, as is the cost of a bus ramp to a local train station, which is not in the current plans. “Once the governor started saying, ‘We’re going to move fast,’ all of a sudden the bus option became $5 billion—‘I can’t do that; I can’t pay for that,’ ” Zupan said. “There’s

Moving New York Ahead with a Diverse Workforce

never been a satisfactory explanation, as far as I can tell, as to how the cost rose so much.” Asked if the state could do anything beyond adding the dedicated bridge bus lanes during rush hour, Schwartz shot down any other changes. “From an affordability standpoint,

some of the things that are being suggested are just nonstarters, because the question you have is who’s going to pay for it,” he said. “Are people going to pay higher property taxes and tolls for that? My understanding is nobody is willing to pay for it, including County Executive Astorino.”

UPCOMING ISSUE SPOTLIGHT:

Banking & Financial Services

Elevate awareness of your organization’s banking and finance objectives and issues in this targeted legislative advertising venue.

RailWorks Corporation and its subsidiary L.K. Comstock & Company are proud of our transit systems work over the past century to move New York ahead. For more information about minority, women and disadvantaged business opportunities, contact Alain Conze at aconze@railworks.com.

The Special Section Features Political Perspectives on Banking with:

Feature Articles:

Ben Lawsky

COMMUNITY BANKS FEEL THE SQUEEZE

State Sen. John DeFrancisco Assemblywoman Annette Robinson Councilman Domenic Recchia

THE RESPONSIBLE BANKING ACT

BANKING ISSUES SCORECARD: • Major Issues at Stake • A Rundown of the Key Players • Facts & Figures about Banking in NY

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (Public Officials pending confirmation)

www.railworks.com 631.592.5844

Advertising Deadline: July 24 — Issue Date: July 30 For advertising information, please contact Jim Katocin (212) 284-9714 or jkatocin@cityandstateny.com

RailWorks is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE). 22

JULY 16, 2012 | www.cityandstateny.com

CITY&STATE


LOCAL 46 Reinforces New York’s Future LOCAL 46 Reinforces New Yorkʼs Future

SAFE STRONG**SUSTAINABLE SUSTAINABLE SAFE ** STRONG A SAFER NEW YORK FOR ALL OF US Local 46ʼs skilled craftsmen -- protecting the safety of its members andÉ

your job site.

LOCAL 46 Metallic Lathers & Ironworkers LOCAL 46 Metallic Lathers &Reinforcing Reinforcing Ironworkers 1322 Third Avenue @ East 76th Street New York, NY 10021 Tel: Fax:212-249-1226 212-249-1226 Tel:212-737-0500 212-737-0500 Fax: Terrance Moore, Business Manager - FS/T Kevin Kelly, Ronnie Richardson, John Coffey, Michael Anderson, Business Agents John Skinner, President

CITY&STATE

www.cityandstateny.com | July 16, 2012

23


S P OT L I G H T : M ASS T R A N S P O R TAT I O N

ticket to ride Will the summer’s transit price increases change how commuters travel? By Aaron Short

S

ummer temperatures aren’t the only thing rising that could stifle New Yorkers this year. The cost of several modes of transit is set to jump this year, as policymakers seek to increase revenues and reign in ballooning costs without reducing services. But those higher tolls and transit passes will likely trickle down to the region’s subway, rail and vehicle commuters, who will bear the brunt of the costs. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is discussing a plan to increase its revenues by 7.5 percent, which authority officials say they will propose at the end of the month. That may not result in a direct fare hike for straphangers, who currently pay $2.25 for a single ride. But transit sources believe the authority will charge an additional 25 or 50 cents per fare and could consider capping the number of rides on unlimited passes. “Running trains, buses and subways is, unfortunately, expensive, and over time, as costs increase, we have to come up with ways to pay those costs,” said MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg. “Even though we have slashed costs at the MTA, increased revenues through regular and predictable fare increases and targeted hundreds of millions of dollars in cost reductions in the 24 JULY 16, 2012 | www.cityandstateny.com

“Running trains, buses and subways is, unfortunately, expensive, and over time, as costs increase, we have to come up with ways to pay those costs.”

coming year, our financial picture remains fragile.” The authority’s proposal will come as prices are set to rise on two other major transit options in the metropolitan region. Last week the Taxi and Limousine Commission was set to approve an average 17 percent fare bump that will raise the charge from 40 cents to 50 cents for each fifth of a mile traveled or when a vehicle idles in traffic for one minute. The increase does not include the base fare and is designed to put more of a burden on longer rides.

And the Port Authority, which manages the Lincoln and Holland tunnels and the George Washington, Goethals and Bayonne bridges, is moving to raise tolls for cars in December from $9.50 to $10.25 for E-ZPass users and from $12 to $13 for those who pay in cash. Peak tolls for cars already rose last year from $8 to $9.50. Each transit organization hopes it can raise revenues to decrease its debt loads and continue to pay its workers. The MTA expects to collect $7.1 billion next year from fares and tolls alone, about 57 percent of its $12.5 billion budget, and projects raising $449 million from next year’s increases. The proposal could play out in three ways: The authority could enact fare and toll increases in 2013 and 2015; transit workers could accept a net-zero wage increase; or funding for operations and services could face further cuts. The MTA slashed $700 million since last year and could cut another $190 million by 2015, although the agency is reportedly considering restoring some of the busservice cuts it made three years ago. But transit advocates say those fares aren’t fair. Gene Russianoff, a spokesman for the transit watchdog group Straphangers Campaign, argues that the authority should not rely significantly on riders to cover expenses in its transit budget. “New York is the highest in the country for any system that provides subway and bus service by far,” said Russianoff. “Fares went from $63 in 1998 to $89 last decade to $104 in 2010. That’s a 17 percent increase—that’s the rate of inflation in Venezuela!” Other transit leaders argue that fare increases are necessary for operations. Taxi officials say fares must rise to offset the 45 percent jump in gasoline prices since 2006—costs that taxi drivers pay out of their own pockets. A driver only collects an average of $130 during a 12-hour shift. “A taxi driver is taking home less today than he or she was in 2006,” said Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky. “You take a taxi today and pay a $15 fare, the driver keeps less of that. You want taxi driving to be a profession where you can support a family if you work hard.” Policymakers must also focus on enhancing existing transit networks, even if costs do rise later this year. “It isn’t that people are objecting to paying more for transit; it’s that after service cuts people have had to deal with headaches on a day-to-day basis,” said Transportation Alternatives director of transit advocacy Ya-Ting Liu. “It’s just that another fare hike is getting under people’s skin. The question everyone wants to know is, ‘What are we going to get in return?’ ”

CITY&STATE


DIVERSITY / AGENDA

www.diversityagenda.com

CITY&STATE

35 www.cityandstateny.com | July 16, 2012

25


Mass

Scorecard

S P OT L I G H T : M ASS T R A N S P O R TAT I O N

T r a n s p o r tat i o n

The Issues Transit Funding Across New York, governments are struggling to maintain mass transit while minimizing service cuts. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has hinted that if current ridership and financial trends continue, it could restore services cut during the recession. But in the short term, the scaled-back MTA payroll tax and reliance on debt has some transit advocates worried about the subway system’s future. In many cities, bus service is being scaled back or seeing fare hikes. Meanwhile, federal transportation funding hasn’t picked up the slack. Select Buses New York City plans to bring Select Bus Service routes to the Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten

Island, offering relief to residents seeking improved transportation options outside of Manhattan. Some transportation advocates say that extending the service does not go far enough to address poor transportation options in the outer boroughs. Instead of merely modifying existing bus routes, they say that new routes should connect major transportation corridors. Traffic Safety For children ages 1 to 12 in New York City, the most likely cause of death is getting hit by a car. Between 2001 and 2010, more New York City residents were killed by cars than by guns. Those statistics have led transportation activists and elected officials to call on the NYPD and the city to be more vigilant about investigating car crashes.

The Players THE STATE Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge a top priority, and the Thruway Authority recently said it would add bus lanes in the face of criticism that it had left out immediately adding mass transit to the project. Patrick Foye is establishing himself in his first year heading the Port Authority, as is Joseph Lhota at the MTA. Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr., chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, has pushed for

Sharing bikes Some popular biking areas missing out with new bikeshare program This month New York City is set to launch Citi Bike, a bike-share program touted as the largest such program in North America. The initial plans are to place 10,000 bikes in 600 stations through the city, mostly in midtown and lower Manhattan and a portion of Brooklyn. A look at recent bicycle-crash data in the city, which provides a rough indication of where bicycles are used the most, shows the stations will largely be placed in the areas of highest demand. But some popular biking areas, especially in Queens and Manhattan, are missing out on the bike-share program. Sources: citibikenyc.com, NYCDOT KeY:

public-private partnerships, including last year’s designbuild law, and has passed an innovative “Complete Streets” law.

Areas that will have bike-share stations Bicycle crashes by precinct, October–December 2011 1–20 incidents 21–40 incidents 41+ incidents

20,000

15,000

THE CITY Janette Sadik-Khan, Bloomberg’s influential transportation commissioner, took over in 2007 and is reshaping the city’s landscape with new bike lanes and pedestrian plazas. New York City Councilman James Vacca, who chairs the Transportation Committee, is focusing on traffic safety, including drivers who seriously

26 JULY 16, 2012 | www.cityandstateny.com

injure bikers and pedestrians, as well as the dangers posed by commercial delivery cyclists.

cyclist Counts on the rise Since Janette Sadik-Khan took over as transportation commissioner in 2007, bicycle ridership has increased dramatically. The following are total average-ridership levels at six commuter locations across the city during peak hours on a single weekday. (Source: NYCDOT)

THE INDUSTRY

10,000

5,000

0 '02 '03 '04 '05 '06 '07 '08 '09 '10

'11

Construction companies, unions and trade groups see public-sector spending as a way to boost their industry at a time when the economy is still recovering from recession. Among the big players in the construction industry are Skanska, Bechtel, Dragados, AECOM and Parsons, each of which belongs to groups that are finalists to rebuild the Tappan Zee Bridge.

CITY&STATE


We Move

We Move

New York

New York

Millions of people. And we move them in and around the Big Apple every day. If you ride the rails in New York, chances are you’re doing it on a Bombardier product. Effective solutions for public transit. That’s our business.

www.bombardier.com

IT’S ALL IN

S

tay plugged into New York politics all day long with The Notebook, the new political blog from City & State. Led by political writer Chris Bragg with contributions from the entire City & State staff, The Notebook is City & State’s new online home for breaking news and sharp analysis of the shifting sands of campaigns and elections in New York.

www.cityandstateny.com/thenotebook CITY &STATE CITY &STATE

www.cityandstateny.com

www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 2012 JANUARY 23,16,2012

27 21


S P OT L I G H T : M ASS T R A N S P O R TAT I O N CHARLES FUSCHILLO JR. Chairman, Senate Transportation Committee

Q: What was the biggest success in terms of transportation legislation this session? CF: The state budget. We approved a $4.5 billion capital plan to help fund desperately needed infrastructure-improvement projects, with an agreement to do a two-year DOT capital plan next year, augmented by a $100 million increase in both years over current funding levels. We also created the New York Works program, which will supplement the capital plan by $1.6 billion and expedite critical projects throughout the state. Q: Did any key pieces of transportation legislation fail to pass? CF: The legislation to strengthen Leandra’s Law and prevent drunk drivers from getting around the law’s mandatory ignition-interlock requirement. Ignition interlocks have been proven to save lives, which is why we included them under the law. However, only 30 percent of the convicted drunk drivers who were ordered to install them actually did so. The Senate passed the legislation, but the Assembly held the bill in committee. Q: What is the status of your publicprivate partnership legislation? CF: We approved design-build legislation last December, and we are already seeing positive results in terms of how quickly many of the New York Works projects are moving forward. The legislation I’m sponsoring would build on that success and give the state greater flexibility to enter into P3 agreements. We’re continuing to have conversations with the Assembly and the governor, and I’m hopeful this legislation will get passed and signed into law as soon as possible. Q: How much does adequately financing transportation depend on a strong economic recovery? CF: Every $1 billion spent on infrastructure projects creates approximately 25,000 jobs. Even in challenging financial times, we still need to find ways to fund critical projects to keep our infrastructure safe, functional and reliable... We need to keep exploring new and innovative ways to generate economic development, reduce risk and financial burden to the state, and stretch current funding farther to get more projects off the ground. 28

JULY 16, 2012 | www.cityandstateny.com

JOSEPH LHOTA

JAMES VACCA

Chairman and CEO, Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Chairman, New York City Council Transportation Committee

Q: How will the MTA close its budget gap in coming years? JL: We’re in the process of updating our financial plan for the coming years. We are confident that a combination of aggressive cost-cutting, a labor agreement with three years of net-zero wage increases and small but regular fare and toll increases will allow us to keep our budget balanced. However, that balance is fragile, and even as our discretionary costs have increased by only six-tenths of 1 percent, our nondiscretionary costs are projected to grow much higher than the rate of inflation.

Q: What is New York City’s biggest mass-transit issue? JV: Long-term there has to be stability for funding streams that the MTA can count on, both on the expense and the capital side. Of an immediate nature is if the MTA will be able to make some restorations of service that were cut in 2010. Many people, especially those who take buses, are hoping for these restorations. Many of them have been left stranded by the cuts, and for the immediate future we have to look to restorations. And the MTA will have to make that determination based on their fiscal situation. Bus ridership is down since those cuts, and if bus ridership is down, in all likelihood car use is up. That’s something that we don’t want to encourage.

Q: Will the subway countdown clocks be expanded? JL: Our customers love the countdown clocks, which were possible after a decade of work to improve the signaling system on all the numbered lines. Changing the signals on the lettered lines will take even longer, so we’re looking at a variety of technologies to speed up that process and deliver countdown clocks faster. We want all stations to have them as soon as possible. Q: What else does the MTA have up its sleeve? JL: The subway countdown data will get pushed out to apps and computers within the next couple of months, so you can check their progress from your phone or computer. And just like the countdown clocks on subways, Bus Time has been tremendously popular on bus lines, so instead of waiting for the bus you can meet it. It’s available for all buses on Staten Island now, on the M34 in Manhattan and the B63 in Brooklyn, on every bus in the Bronx by the end of the year, and on every bus in the city by the end of next year. Q: When you came on, a top priority was improving the MTA’s reputation. JL: We’re starting to change some impressions about the MTA, but we have a long way to go. We need to keep finding more efficiencies in how we operate to minimize the need for future fare increases. We need to keep our major capital projects like East Side Access and the Second Avenue Subway on time and on budget. And we need to identify new sources of funding to pay for the next capital plan starting in 2015.

Q: What other issues are you working on? JV: We have an increasing amount of people who are going to work not in Manhattan but in their own boroughs or within suburban counties. People in the outer boroughs now commute to suburban jobs centers, and mass transit has not kept up with that reality. More people now than ever work in the Bronx, for example, or they work in job centers such as White Plains or Stamford, Conn.—and how do we get them there without them using their cars? I think that there has to be a planning effort in that regard. Q: Is a strong national economic recovery essential to fully fund the city’s mass-transit needs? JV: I would think a good national economy is always better than a bad one. It could go two ways. If there’s a bad national economy, could the federal government then try to stimulate the economy by funding mass-transit infrastructure? I think Republicans in Congress have made it clear that they do not want to do that, but Democrats have tried to use a bad national economy as an opportunity to catch up on mass-transit infrastructure projects. A good national economy is good because then you have more money coming in from the gas tax, and that means there’s more money for mass transit, because people are driving, people are going on vacations and people have money in their pockets to spend. I think this is a pro and con to both situations.

JANETTE SADIKKHAN New York City Transportation Commissioner

Q: What is your top priority now? JS: A world-class city needs worldclass transportation options. Starting this summer, New York City is moving ahead with Citi Bike, a new low-cost transportation option that will bring 10,000 bikes to 600 stations by spring in Manhattan south of 59th Street and from Long Island City in Queens to Park Slope, Brooklyn. Bike share will give New Yorkers tap-and-go access to the nation’s largest fleet of publicly available bikes—a kind of transportation-to-go. It’s also the first large-scale network to launch without any taxpayer outlay— potentially providing a new model for systems elsewhere in the nation. Q: What else are you working on? JS: While we seek to expand choices for travel with bike share, Select Bus service and other programs, we have not let up on a $5 billion state-ofgood-repair investment program over the last five years for roads, sidewalks, and bridges and streets. We are doubling down with these efforts and with innovative programs like the major expansion of Midtown in Motion, which uses state-of-the-art technology that lets traffic engineers identify and respond to Midtown traffic choke points in real time. Q: You’ve been described as part Jane Jacobs, part Robert Moses. How do you see yourself? JS: It’s because Robert Moses built out the network that today we are able to repurpose just some of this to work for pedestrians and bike riders as well as it does for those behind the wheel. Jane Jacobs showed that a livable city is a place where the streets are attractive and inviting for people of every age, and where it’s safe and easy to get around on foot. And these investments in the pedestrian space are investments in the retail economy— and as we saw in Times Square, it’s the difference between night and day. Times Square retail rents have doubled, and it’s listed as one of the top retail corridors on the planet. We are reengineering streets to make them safer for seniors and for schoolkids, installing audible pedestrian signals for the sight-impaired, and we are moving ahead with our CityBench installations and with a pedestrian sign and information network to help New Yorkers and visitors crack the code on how to get around New York’s streets.

CITY&STATE


PERSPECTIVES

THE JEREMY LIN OF POLITICS? In a lot of ways, politics is like baseball. Even when it looks like nothing is happening, a great deal is going on. Politics is also a spectator sport where fans (i.e., voters) can be participants. Fans often feel they know the players personally, and their allegiance to their favorites can be rabid. The recent congressional primaries were like the League Championship Series. A few races were laughers (Engel defeated his challenger, 93–7), some favorites won easily (Collins, Meeks, Maloney, Jeffries) and one game went into extra innings (Rangel–Espaillat). As for the Democratic primary in NY-23, that race evoked the immortal words of the late great Yankees announcer Mel Allen: “How about that!” Because of the exciting outcome of that contest, New Yorkers now have the opportunity to send two Asian-Americans to the 113th Congress, after never before electing any in our history. Of course, one of these sluggers is Assemblywoman Grace Meng, whose victory has been widely reported in the papers, and cited as an historic achievement by Democrats and voting-rights activists. But the other up-andcoming hitter’s exploits have gone largely unsung, though they are no less worthy of note. Tompkins County Legislator Nate Shinagawa’s primary win is remarkable because he won in an overwhelmingly non–Asian-American district. His victory is what the Voting Rights Act was intended to make possible: enable voters to choose candidates without governmental interference or racial prejudice. For those of you who are hearing about Shinagawa for the first time, he’s an Asian-American of Japanese and

Korean ancestry who moved from California to Ithaca over 10 years ago. In his high school commencement address, a young Shinagawa presciently spoke of breaking glass ceilings. And yes, he was voted “most likely to succeed” (as a jaded New Yorker, I roll my eyes at this type of thing). A county legislator and hospital administrator, he was an aide to Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton. His support for the Affordable Care Act is tied to his commitment to improving access to quality rural healthcare. And like many of his constituents, he believes that the environmental risks of naturalgas exploration outweigh the economic gains. At this point the Jeremy Lin comparisons are inevitable. Like Lin, Shinagawa seemingly came Michael out of nowhere (especially to those Benjamin of us in New York City). Yet this is less a reflection of who he is than a symptom of our collective political myopia. Shinagawa’s clinching of the Democratic nomination is the spiritual and physical embodiment of the Voting Rights Act. The VRA was not enacted for the perpetuation or preservation of racial and ethnic silos. Shinagawa won in one of the most rural parts of the state with votes from whites, blacks and Hispanics, which arguably makes his victory far more significant and impressive than Meng’s, who won as the machine-favored candidate in a predominantly Asian, court-drawn district in Queens.

Like Lin’s memorable first games with the Knicks, Shinagawa has erupted onto the scene with unquestionably impressive feats, but a fairy-tale ending to his Cinderella story is far from assured. He now faces a tough general-election campaign against the GOP incumbent, Tom Reed, who bested his 2010 opponent, Matthew Zeller, by 12 points and nearly 30,000 votes. Meanwhile Meng faces the GOP standard-bearer and famously pagan City Councilman Dan Halloran, in a race she is heavily favored to win, owing to the Democrats’ significant registration advantage in the district. Wins by both Shinagawa and Meng, while not signifying a post-racial New York, would mark another advance in achieving the American dream. Their electoral successes suggest New York should apply to the U.S. District Court for bailout from Section 5 preclearance coverage under the VRA. I believe the city has effectively overcome its past treatment of minority voters and candidates. Although Asian-American candidates have had greater success across than other racial minorities in being elected from predominantly white communities, I still believe that the stain of voter discrimination has been removed for decades in New York. As voters in NY-23 go to the polls in November, they should judge Nate Shinagawa on the issues and on his merits as a candidate to represent them in Congress. I look forward to following all the balls and strikes. Retired Assemblyman Michael Benjamin represented the Bronx for eight years.

WHY THEY WON Pundits do a good job of assessing winners and losers after electoral events like the recent congressional primaries. Few are better, for example, than City & State’s First Read on Fridays. Yet while this last primary’s victors have already been determined, I would like to parse the significant factors underlying who won, who lost and why. First, let’s look at the GOP Senate race. In statewide primaries generally the most potent combination a candidate can achieve is being dubbed the most conservative in the field and winning the designation of upstate’s horse. That is what Wendy Long rode to victory. The GOP registration breakdown is 53 percent from upstate, 30 percent from the suburbs (Long Island, Westchester and Rockland) and 17 percent from New York City. But in terms of who actually votes in GOP primaries, upstate is in the driver’s seat. In the 2010 gubernatorial primary, the regional split in the vote among Republicans was 66 percent upstate, 25 percent in the suburbs and 9 percent in New York City. The preliminary returns in this year’s Senate primary show upstate voters casting 60 percent of the GOP vote, the suburbs accounting for 27 percent and the five boroughs making up the remaining 13 percent. Long carried upstate by a wide margin, enabling her to win a majority in a three-way race. Long first demonstrated her strength upstate at the GOP convention. In a Republican primary, Turner’s base in New York City and Maragos’ in Nassau simply were too slender to carry a statewide primary.

CITY&STATE

Regionalism was also bolstered by ideology. Long was perceived to be the most conservative candidate in the race (e.g., carrying Suffolk County). Her endorsement by the Conservative Party became the seal of approval for right-wing Republicans. Empirically, the most conservative candidate wins Republican primaries (D’Amato over Javits in 1980, Pataki over Rosenbaum in 1994, Paladino over Lazio in 2010). Bill Weld realized this when he dropped out of the gubernatorial primary after John Faso bested him at the convention in 2006. On the Democratic side, I have three principal observations about the recent primary, the first being that King Lear endorseBruce Gyory ments didn’t work. By this I mean voters did not find persuasive the frustration-laden endorsements of longtime political leaders. Vito Lopez working against Nydia Velázquez and Ed Towns endorsing Charles Barron in an attempt to deny Hakeem Jeffries, his seat both failed. In fact, Lopez’s and Towns’ interventions probably helped lead Velázquez and Jeffries to landslide victories. A second noteworthy development is that emerging ethnic and racial constituencies surging from the census also advanced at the polls. The old conventional wisdom that Asians and Dominicans don’t vote was smashed by Grace Meng’s victory and Adriano Espail-

lat’s strong showing against Charlie Rangel. John Liu expanded the Asian share of the vote in New York City from 3 percent to 10 percent in the 2009 primary. Grace Meng proved this result was not an aberration. The rise of the Asian voter and the political coming of age of the city’s Dominicans will remain forces to be reckoned with for decades. Given this increasing diversity, not only do we have a clear minority majority in the New York City electorate but also a growing diversity within the minority communities forming that majority (among blacks, Asians and Hispanics). This fact puts a premium on coalition building, personified by Hakeem Jeffries’ 3–1 trouncing of Barron. In this district, the winning candidate had to establish his appeal to working class and poor African-Americans, Caribbean-American immigrants and upwardly mobile black professionals, as well as Jewish, Hispanic, “yuppie” and Italian-American voters. Jeffries did that, while Barron never could. As we try to understand future primaries, we should focus on regionalism and ideology for the GOP, and the political implications of census trends and coalition building for the Democrats. And if you are a candidate and an angry veteran political leader tempts you with his endorsement, run away, as if escaping a midsummer night’s dream, which will actually become a nightmare. Bruce N. Gyory is a political consultant at Corning Place Communications in Albany and an adjunct professor of political science at SUNY Albany. www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 16, 2012

29


# W I N N E R SA N D LO S E R S

winners & Losers

Get your comment in the paper. tweet us @cityandstateny

The congressional primaries brought us plenty of sizzling races in late June, and the summer heat didn’t slow things down in early July, as campaigns picked up speed and politicians and government officials notched key victories or made newsworthy gaffes. Here’s a recap of who’s up and who’s down—and who our readers voted the biggest winners and losers. Go to cityandstateny.com each week to vote.

WEEk Of JuNE 29, 2012

WEEk Of JuLY 6, 2012

WINNERS

AmERICA’S CHOICE Bald Eagle:

WINNERS ESpAILLAT 29%

COLLINS 5%

mAGNARELLI/YOuNG 16%

CROWLEY 24% LONG 13%

BLOOmBERG 6%

YOuR CHOICE RANGEL 34% WARD 21% Chris Collins: Back from the dead mike Long: Goes long and connects—with wendy Long peter Ward: endorsement was meng’s turning point

mOST ImpROVED Joseph Crowley: in last year’s special election between Bob turner and david weprin, Queens democratic chairman Joe crowley was pegged as a loser after weprin’s stunning defeat. so it’s only fair that we acknowledge crowley won huge by selecting assemblywoman Grace meng as the party’s pick in the ny-6 race. now, if meng wins the general election, we have a feeling Joe will be throwing some sort of epic karaoke party in the near future.

Charlie Rangel: no amount of drama or trauma has ever been able to take down charlie rangel—and it appears that nothing ever will. whether it’s redistricting, sickness or ethical clouds, rangel has trucked on, defiantly telling everyone in earshot he’s the only man for his job. although outstanding ballots tightened his race with adriano espaillat, rangel made it through that trial unscathed, too.

LOSERS

BALD EAGLE 24% Bill magnarelli & Catharine Young: passed the most bills michael Bloomberg: disses the puns Anthony Weiner: returns to public stage

YOuR CHOICE Adriano Espaillat: the race was over, but after a series of Boe mishaps and a savvy court case later, espaillat was still in the game. there will be no redo primary and the outcome is no longer in doubt, but even if he heads back to the state senate, he’s the man who brought rangel to within an inch of the end of his career. with his name going national, espaillat may have an easier time winning the seat if he tries again, especially if the venerable rangel retires.

LOSERS

BARRON 18% COx 3% LANCmAN 11% LOpEz 21% NIEDERmAN 45% Ed Cox: Bob turner loses senate primary Rory Lancman: out of a job and out of touch Vito Lopez: miscalculated Velázquez challenge

NOBODY’S CHOICE Charles Barron: if the worst part had been losing by 40+ points, he might still have escaped this week’s hall of shame. But Barron had no base of support, well, anywhere. not only did he lose every single assembly district, including his wife’s, Barron even lost his own block. wow, that hurts.

YOu SAID “The facts surrounding the rout of C.M. Barron begs the question ‘Why were Democratic leaders so worried?’ They surely knew from his previous non–City Council races his difficulty getting votes beyond his City Council role. Jimmy McMillan outpolled him in the gubernatorial primary. Are they going to freak out when he announces for borough president?” —MiChAel A. BenJAMin

YOuR CHOICE David Niederman: the influential rabbi in williamsburg’s hasidic community tried everything to put erik dilan in congress, from urging residents to vote in yiddish newspaper columns to sending orthodox Jews to staff polls on primary day. But he didn’t pull enough votes for dilan among the satmar Zalmanites to beat rep. Velázquez. the rabbi remains the Zalmanite’s top political maven, but politicians visiting south williamsburg now must also meet with his bitter rivals, the aaronites. 30

WEINER 22%

JULY 16, 2012 | www.cityandstateny.com

GOLDEN 38% NYC BOE 26% HAYWORTH 20% COLLINS 4% pINSkY 9% Seth pinsky: illegal lobbying on willets point Nan Hayworth: Loses independence line NYC Board of Elections: Fumbles rangel–espaillat recount

YOuR CHOICE marty Golden: what do women want? maybe not a workshop about “posture, deportment, and the feminine presence.” Golden’s well-meaning jobs seminar for “ladies” took us all the way back to a pre–Betty Friedan era whose social mores we can’t even appreciate ironically. Golden got an earful from every progressive blogger there is, before canceling the event. perhaps the senator needs his own seminar—on how to help people find jobs without offending them.

narrowsburg’s bald eagles faced danger when town officials proposed a fireworks display near the formerly endangered species’ habitat. thank the lucky stars (and stripes) the u.s. Fish and wildlife service threatened the town with heavy fines if they had their potentially bird-immolating light show. the town moved the fireworks, the eagles were safe, the residents were cheered and patriotism was well-displayed. compromise. God Bless america.

fOOT-INmOuTH Chris Collins: Just when things were back on track, collins committed yet another unforced error. collins has previously suffered from foot-inmouth disease, comparing shelly silver to hitler and telling a woman she could get a seat at the state of the state for a lap dance. this time he said, “people now don’t die from cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things.” taken out of context or not, he looked out of touch and insensitive.

CITY&STATE


B AC K & F O R T H

DecriminalizeD R

ichard Stratton, the former editor of High Times magazine, knows a thing or two about marijuana. Not only has he written in depth about the subject, he also spent years as a drug smuggler, moving millions of dollars of the product—a path that ultimately landed him a 25-year sentence, of which he served eight years. Since his release two decades ago, Stratton has become one of the most successful and prolific ex-cons, writing novels, producing award-winning films and running a TV series not so loosely based on his life. City & State Editor Morgan Pehme asks Stratton the straight dope about decriminalization, prison reform and his refusal to rat out Norman Mailer.

City & State: Were you surprised when Governor Cuomo announced that he was going to push for the decriminalization of marijuana possession up to 25 grams? Richard Stratton: Not really, because I think that any smart politician really sees that the writing on the wall is that decriminalization and legalization is inevitable. They say there were three reasons why Prohibition ended: the Depression, the Depression and the Depression. I think the three reasons why ultimately marijuana will be legalized are the Recession, the Recession and the Recession, particularly in states like California and New York, where you have a major underground market that is huge…. For the government not to be getting a piece of that is stupid.

with the government.” So she based her sentence on my refusal to cooperate… which turns out to be illegal. You can give a person less time for cooperating, but you can’t give a person more time for refusing to cooperate. The sentence becomes coercive, rather than putative. It took me awhile to find the case law in the Second Circuit that says that, but once I found that I knew I was on my way back to court…. It was a eureka moment. CS: The government tried to offer you a plea bargain to drop a dime on Norman Mailer? RS: It was Mailer and a bunch of other people. Hunter Thompson, who was a dear friend of mine. I was involved with Rolling Stone in those days and I knew Hunter really well. My lawyer at the time was a guy named Dick Goodwin, who was a Kennedy speechwriter, and they wanted Goodwin. They wanted anybody that I could give them. CS: But none of those people were involved with your drug operation? RS: No. Look, Hunter Thompson, did we smoke pot together? Yes. Did we do LSD together? Yes. Hunter was a drug user, but he was never a drug dealer…. But it would have been a feather in some prosecutor’s cap to have arrested Hunter Thompson, and they would have made a big deal about it because this is the guy who wrote Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and then Mailer had written as “General Marijuana” [one of Mailer’s aliases at The Village Voice] years before.

CS: Were you surprised at all when the Senate Republicans rejected Cuomo’s decriminalization effort? RS: You know, I was surprised, because I’ve always believed that it’s a Republican issue. You’re talking about those values that Republicans supposedly hold dear, like personal liberty and less involvement of the state in our lives. That’s really what it’s about.

CS: Do you think you’re a better man for having gone to prison? RS: Yeah. I was a lunatic before I went to prison, in many ways. The thing about doing what I did was that it’s a tremendous enhancer of hubris…. Look, I used to be able to open up the closet and take out a suitcase full of money and do whatever I wanted. That’s a crazy way to live, and it goes to your head. It definitely goes to your head.

CS: Do you think that if marijuana were legalized that it would profoundly drive down the levels of incarceration and drug-related violence in this country? RS: Well, certainly the levels of incarceration…. It is the drug To read war that has led to the huge expansion of the full our prison system. Like everything else in text of this America, they’ve figured our how to make a interview, including business out of it. They build prisons and it Stratton’s take on gives people jobs and they put these prisons President Obama, in areas of states where they need work, where Governor Cuomo the factories have closed down, and these guys and Mayor Bloomthat had jobs in factories go to work as guards berg, check out and correctional officers in prisons, so it became cityandstateny.com. an industry: the prison-industrial complex.

CS: And when you got out you married a cop? RS: I married a former undercover narcotics cop, yeah. [The couple divorced after 15 years; Stratton has since remarried.]

CS: In one of your trials, you were convicted and sentenced by former Manhattan Borough President Constance Baker Motley, who was chief judge of the Southern District at the time, and yet Motley inadvertently helped you get your sentence vacated. Please explain. RS: I kept telling myself that there was no way I was going to do 25 years. I was going to beat that sentence down one way or another, so I became tremendously involved in researching the law around my case and criminal drug laws in general…. In the case here in…New York, I actually represented myself…. I had this defense which was basically, Look, I’ve already been sentenced to 15 years up in Maine for smuggling pot, and this case…is just an attempt by the government to make me cooperate, give them information on people that they’re looking to arrest…. Ultimately I was convicted, but when [Judge Motley] sentenced me I gave her this spiel about drugs…. And she said, “You know what? I agree with you, and I think that marijuana is not as dangerous a drug, but you refused to cooperate

CITY&STATE

CS: So what is the psychology behind that? RS: You know, some of my best friends are cops. Tonight I’m going to spend the night with Sonny Grosso…the French Connection cop… Nobody understands a cop as well as a criminal, and nobody understands a criminal as well as a cop…. The DEA agent who arrested me in the very beginning became a good friend of mine. I don’t have a problem with them, unless they’re corrupt—unless they’re setting you up, or venal. Then that’s different.

Photo by Jonathan SPringer

CS: What are your thoughts on political corruption? RS: Mailer used to say, “Is it good for the Jews, or is it bad for the Jews?” meaning, “Is it good for the culture, or is it bad for the culture?” If it’s bad for the culture—and corruption is always bad for the culture—lock ’em up…. I remember when I was locked up, Muhammad Ali came and spoke to the prison population one day. It was one of the highlights of my being in prison, and he got up and he was talking about, “There are guys out there with briefcases stealing more money that you guys are stealing with your guns. Don’t let yourself be defined by your crimes. Go out there and change your lives.” There are politically corrupt people who have done things in the public arena who are heinous, and they affect many more people than someone who is dealing a little pot. www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 16, 2012

31


AllStar ad 2012_City & State 7/3/12 3:13 PM Page 1

“A record 16 outstanding CUNY students in 2012 won National Science Foundation awards of $126,000 each for graduate study in the sciences. No other University system in the Northeast won more. CUNY students continue to win the nation’s most prestigious awards, coached by our world-class faculty.” — Matthew Goldstein, Chancellor

1-800-CUNY-YES

cuny.edu/allstars

City and State - July 16, 2012  

The July 16, 2012 issue of City and State . Targeting the politicians, lobbyists, unions, staffers and issues which shape New York City and...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you