Vol. 2, No. 14 | JULY 22, 2013
City & State NY LLC 61 Broadway, Suite 2825 New York, NY 10006
ILLUSTRATION : LARRY NADOLSKY
Morgan Pehme EDITOR
I am indignant about moral indignation. Over the past two months, we have seen an eruption of outrage over the candidacies of Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer from elected officials and other interested parties across the city, and to be perfectly frank, I have a hard time believing a word of it. If there were any consistency in the way these elected officials decried the ethical and legal transgressions of their colleagues, that would be one thing. But we have seen time and again that when it is in the self-interest of New York politicians to turn a blind eye to sexual harassment, member item abuse, scandal cover-ups and outright corruption, the same electeds who are now echoing Cicero’s famous exclamation “O tempora! O mores!” are quick to implore the public and the media to reserve judgment or extend forgiveness to their allies. While there are numerous people who are legitimately appalled by the conduct of Weiner and Spitzer, for the most part the uproar to date has been manufactured by their opponents, their opponents’ surrogates and the special interests that have cast their lots in favor of one of these rivals, who are now petrified that they may have bet wrong. Just as disingenuous as the
moaning about the shame Spitzer and Weiner’s candidacies have brought upon New York City politics—as if our current elected officials were held up as paragons of virtue—is the criticism that Spitzer’s self-funded bid is undemocratic. Oh, please. Where was this chorus of rectitude when Scott Stringer was set to cruise into the city’s second most powerful elected office unopposed? Are these same critics howling with anger that despite being under a thunder cloud of suspicion Eric Adams is on the verge of being coronated Brooklyn borough president with the backing of virtually every Democratic official in the city, including practically every one of the party’s mayoral candidates? Of course not. Taking such a stand would require these politicians to do something that would potentially be unpopular with their fellow insiders—that perhaps might exemplify courage, that rarest of qualities among our elected leaders. The other direction from which the righteous indignation over Spitzer and Weiner’s candidacies has come is the tabloids. Their umbrage is just as laughable, and no less theatrical. While the editorial pages excoriate Weiner and Spitzer for their past transgressions and lambaste the sincerity of their redemption tours, the razorsharp wits who write the covers of their newspapers are selling their product by spinning out one family-friendly headline after another along the lines of “Here We Ho Again!” The truth is Spitzer’s greatest transgression was never sexual in nature, nor was it precipitated by hubris; his real crime was hypocrisy. And now, thanks to his self-serving antagonists, we see clearly just how easy it is to commit that offense.
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AROUND NEW YORK The best items from City & State’s website City & State’s website 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.
MANHATTAN Eliot Spitzer’s (below) petitioning operation is confident that it has obtained enough valid signatures to get the former governor on the ballot for New York City comptroller, according to a knowledgeable source. The campaign handed in 27,663 signatures to the Board of Elections, more than seven times the 3,750 signatures needed. The
signatures have been carefully reviewed by the campaign’s petitioning team, which believes that Spitzer will indeed be able to challenge Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer in the Democratic Primary, the source said. If so, the Spitzer team will have accomplished a Herculean labor of sorts, successfully collecting an extraordinary number of signatures in a mere four days. “Against the odds and all predictions—and in light of some who tried to thwart the effort—I am pleased to announce that we have collected more than 27,000 signatures in four days,” Spitzer said in a statement. “I want to thank those who assisted with this effort and the New Yorkers who signed these petitions. I pledge to stand with you against the special interests and on the crucial issues.”
ALTAMONT Woodstock it’s not. A compendium of conservative grassroots groups led by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association is planning an all-day patriotic music festival at the Altamont Fairgrounds on Aug. 24 to register Republicans to vote. “We believe that to be effective you first have to get your people registered,” Assemblyman Bill Nojay (below) said. “There’s an automatic disadvantage in upstate New York because voter fraud in New York City is widespread.” Nojay hopes the event, Rock the Vote for Conservatives, will tap in to widespread frustration with the state Legislature’s passage of stricter gun control laws earlier this year. But it won’t just be a concert for gun rights enthusiasts. Expect Tea Party groups, sportsmen,
Southern Tier landowners, fiscal conservatives and right-leaning political organizers to attend. “Our biggest concern was not conflicting with the gun shows,” Nojay said. “In September the gun shows start up big-time. The primaries are only important in New York City.”
QUEENS Former New York City Councilman Walter McCaffrey (below), who represented the neighborhoods of Woodside, Long Island City and Sunnyside for 16 years, died on July 10 at the age of 64. As a mark of respect for McCaffrey, Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered all flags to be lowered to half-mast for one full week. A shrewd legislative strat-
egist, gifted debater and consummate political animal, McCaffrey thrived on the intrigue and importance of campaigns and governing without ever losing his idealism. “He was a person with great affection for the city,” said former New York City Parks Commissioner Henry Stern. “He was a good fellow. He kept his word. His was the old-style politics.” McCaffrey was divorced decades ago, never remarried and had no children. He is survived by his many friends—who were his family—and the district, borough and city for which he lived.
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All-Star 2013 2teams2_City&State 7/10/13 2:50 PM Page 1
e r o f e B Ever n a h t ers n n i W rd a w A F NS Y N U C More
ore than 20 outstanding CUNY students in 2013 won National Science Foundation awards of $126,000 each for graduate study in the sciences. No other University system in the Northeast won more.
1-800-CUNY-YES cuny.edu/allstars www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 8, 2013
UPFRONT BY THE NUMBERS
THE KICKER: A CHOICE QUOTE FROM CITY & STATE’S FIRST READ EMAIL
“Comptroller? This guy couldn’t even comptrol himself.” —Late Night host David Letterman expressing mock surprise that former Gov. Eliot Spitzer is running for New York City comptroller
Feeding the Hungry
he New York City Coalition Against Hunger released a comprehensive 87-page report, “Food Secure NYC 2018,” that aims to provide the city’s next mayor a framework to give New Yorkers nutritious and affordable food, while also generating jobs to close the gap between the rich and poor in the city.
1.4 million Second Chances Tale of the Tape BY AARON SHORT
New York’s prodigal pols are back and ready for redemption this fall at your local polling place. Both men are driven former public servants whose careers were tripped up by sex scandals of their own making. And they have more in common than they would care to admit.
New Yorkers living in “food insecure” homes before Superstorm Sandy
474,000 New York City children living in households lacking in sufficient food, 2008–10
10 Percentage of seniors combating hunger
2.5 billion Annual cost of hunger and food insecurity citywide, in dollars
1,100 Approximate number of nonprofit soup kitchens and food pantries HIGHEST OFFICE HELD Congressman GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS Pushed for a single payer health care system, helped reopen the Statue of Liberty’s crown
GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS Sued Wall Street banks for inflating stock prices and investigated insurance companies
NICKNAME, THANKS TO JAY LENO Peter Tweeter
NICKNAME, THANKS TO JAY LENO Hooker Booker
BEST NEW YORK POST HEADLINE, SCANDAL EDITION “Battle of the Bulge: Weiner Exposed”
BEST NEW YORK POST HEADLINE, SCANDAL EDITION “Ho no!”
BEST NEW YORK POST HEADLINE, COMEBACK EDITION “Weiner’s Second Coming! Anthony: Erect me Mr. Mayor”
BEST NEW YORK POST HEADLINE, COMEBACK EDITION
MOST POWERFUL ENEMIES Andrew Cuomo, Christine Quinn, David Letterman ACTOR WHO COULD PLAY HIM IN A BIOPIC Adrien Brody
HIGHEST OFFICE HELD Governor
JULY 22, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
63 Share of feeding agencies in a 2012 survey that couldn’t keep up with demand, as a percentage
59.1 Total participation in the labor force citywide, as a percentage
231.5 billion Combined private net worth of New York City’s 53 billionaires
“Here We Ho Again!”
Median household income in 2012, in dollars
MOST POWERFUL ENEMIES Andrew Cuomo, Hank Greenberg, Ken Langone
Median worker earnings in 2012, in dollars
ACTOR WHO COULD PLAY HIM IN A BIOPIC Stanley Tucci
32, 210 13,000 Annual income of a full-time worker making minimum wage, in dollars CITY&STATE
KEEP OUR CITY SAFE!
We Must STOP Career Politicians From Handcuffing Our Police! Support Our Police Department Who Have Made New York City The SAFEST Big City In The U.S.A.
JO H N C AT S IMA T ID IS Candidate for Mayor 2013
Over the past 10 years, major crime in New York City has dropped by 28%. Now, the career politicians in the New York City Council want to tell the men and women of the NYPD how to do their job.
How Effective Is A Police Officer With A Blindfold On?
The poorly named Community Safety Act will handcuff our police and make our streets unsafe. It is a law that bans Police Officers from identifying a person by age, gender, color or disability. Tell the career politicians to stop playing games with our safety and leave law enforcement up to Commissioner Ray Kelly and the professionals of the NYPD. Call the New York City Council (212) 788-7100 and tell them you OPPOSE the COMMUNITY SAFETY ACT.
www.CATS2013.com Paid for by the CATS2013 Committee
@ JCats2013 www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 22, 2013
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MOTT HAVEN, THE BRONX
SOUTH BRONX RACES GENERATE LITTLE HEAT BY JOE HIRSCH When the city’s redistricting commission pulled back the curtain on newly drawn City Council lines in February, it revealed that all of Mott Haven would be lumped in with East Harlem in the 8th Council District. The move pushed the 17th Council District, now represented by longtime incumbent Maria del Carmen Arroyo, to points farther north. The largely residential Melrose neighborhood just north, will remain inside the 17th. Five months later, few residents appear to have taken much interest in the district lines or the candidates. Incumbent has low profile among diners At Camaguey Restaurant on 138th Street, and across Mott Haven, Melissa Mark-Viverito is the incumbent voters will consider in September’s primary. On a sweltering afternoon, a half dozen sixtysomething men sat on stools around the entrance to the 6 train at Brook Avenue near the restaurant. None could say who is running for the Council seat, or knew that Mark-Viverito has represented this sliver of the neighborhood for eight years. Beverly Smalls, a regular customer at Camaguey who owns a convenience store around the corner, came in to buy lunch on a slow July 5 afternoon. She explained that a local candidate for the Council seat left a form at her store weeks ago, asking for help getting signatures to put her on the ballot. But her customers “don’t want to sign a paper if they don’t know who she is,” Smalls said. “They want to vote, but they don’t want to vote for someone they don’t know. This neighborhood is all about who you know.” While mopping the restaurant floor, Janet Greenberg, one of three sisters who run Camaguey, remembered an elected official who began his career locally, then worked his way up to Albany. She recalled how he used to come in regularly to chat with staff and customers, courting votes. He had not been back for years. “Now he’s all the way up there and we’re down here,” Greenberg said. Smalls had heard a few local NYCHA tenants say good things about MarkViverito, but she said it was rare that anyone among the hundreds of regular customers who came into her store for supplies or lottery tickets knew about the candidates or the imminent elections. “If something is not done, the vote is going to be very low,” Smalls predicted. Challenger faces steep climb There are early indications that voter apathy is as entrenched in the other 6
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Clock ticks for hopefuls
City Council candidate Julio Pabon (center) and a volunteer stump. (Photo by Joe Hirsch)
section of Bronx Community Board 1, the 17th Council District just north of Camaguey, as it is in the 8th. At a voter registration drive at the Jackson Senior Center in Melrose on July 3, one dark horse candidate running against del Carmen Arroyo encouraged seniors to get involved. “You are in District 17,” Julio Pabon, 61, told some 100 seniors, then informed them that “the City Council decides everything that has to do with the city,” including “the buses you take,” and the need for elevators at subway stations. He urged the seniors to help raise local voter participation rates from the meager 12 percent of those registered who now vote. “That’s why this community gets no attention,” he said. “Don’t vote for people just because they’re the only ones you see on the ballot,” Pabon urged the seniors, speaking in both Spanish and English. Name recognition is especially complicated in an area in which the familiar names span generations. “Rubén Díaz has our backs,” Monserrate Bica, 81, said in Spanish, while seated at a table with friends. But when asked, she could not specify whether she was referring to longtime state Sen. Ruben Díaz Sr., or Díaz’s son, Ruben Díaz Jr., the borough president. As for the City Council race, Bica complained that Arroyo doesn’t come to the center as often as she should, but couldn’t say whether she was referring to current Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo or the councilwoman’s mother, longtime Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo, who also represents Melrose. Danny Barber, a lifelong resident of Jackson Houses and a tenant and youth organizer, supports the Arroyos for securing funding for key initiatives in the South Bronx. “My commitment is to the dynasty,” he said.
Even so, Barber says he recognizes many fellow tenants cast their ballots not for deeds but for names. “People have the idea stuck in their heads. Nothing’s going to change,” he said, adding, “They’re not going to take chances on people they don’t know. Tired of government But even name recognition can be hard to gauge in a race few at the senior center are following. While attending the voter registration pitch, Elsie Velez, 66, said City Council representatives “don’t do anything.” Shirley Drakeford, 64, said candidates “do things for their own benefit.” But despite their dissatisfaction with their representatives, neither was able to name the candidates or the role of the City Council. A wheelchair-bound NYCHA tenant, Betty Gant, sat waiting to enter the center. Gant, 65, said that although she votes, she does so with reservations. Her two grown sons are so disillusioned with the political process that they don’t vote at all, she said. “It’s always the same. They make a lot of promises, but nothing ever happens,” Gant said. On a recent night when neither elevator in her building was working, Gant, who has diabetes and heart disease, slept in front of the building after being carried down 12 flights of stairs in her wheelchair. Gant said she has pushed NYCHA officials for two years to transfer her to a lower floor with a wider doorway that EMS workers and family members would be able to wedge her through in emergencies. For Gant, the city’s failure to improve public housing conditions is an indication of unresponsive government. This time she hopes it will be different. “They sweep you under the rug,” she said. “Seniors like me in a wheelchair, who’s going to fight for us? I hope like hell somebody’s going to hear what we have to say.”
After the registration session, Pabon’s volunteers collected signatures in the torrid heat on 156th Street, with just a week left to get their man on the ballot for the September primary. Pabon, a local businessman who served as chief of staff for Rep. José E. Serrano during the 1980s when Serrano was an assemblyman, threw his hat into the ring earlier this year to challenge Arroyo, who was first elected in 2005. Arroyo’s eight-year run has been marked by scandal. In 2010 her nephew, Richard Izquierdo Arroyo, was jailed for a year and a day after pleading guilty to embezzling $115,000 in federal funds from a low-income housing nonprofit he ran. He confessed to funneling some of the money to his aunt’s and his grandmother’s campaigns. In 2011 the councilwoman tried to circumvent standard practice by pressuring officials to bypass city housing agencies and allow a group that had contributed to her campaign to land a management contract on a large Mott Haven apartment building for seniors, according to Crain’s. Although Pabon’s volunteers have collected far more than the 450 signatures needed to get on the ballot, they say the arcane process has been an obstacle course. Campaign volunteer Saj Rahman, 31, has been entering signatures into one of eight computers at the Bronx Board of Elections’ dingy basement office, trying to beat the July 11 deadline on a balky computer system. “Two can be broken at any given time,” Rahman said. Teams of four or five volunteers from better-funded campaigns sometimes arrived at the election office, he said, and if Rahman had been on the computers for a while, the clerks would tell him to leave so the other team could use the computers. According to the New York City Campaign Finance Board, Mark-Viverito is being challenged by Ralina Cardona, Sean Gardner, Gwen Goodwin, Ariel Guerrero and Tamika Humphreys. Aside from Pabon, Arroyo is facing challenger José Vélez. Challengers are encouraged to get three times the minimum number of signatures in order to fend off inevitable legal challenges by incumbents and party lawyers. “Since the Board of Elections is run by people who are appointed by the Democratic establishment, this favors the incumbent,” Rahman said. “Are they being biased toward us?”
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UPPER WEST SIDE, MANHATTAN
SPOONFUL OF SPITZ BY AARON SHORT The dog days of August have made the city streets feel like the inside of a blast furnace—but that wasn’t the only thing heating up the West Side this week. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer thought he was the only candidate in the city comptroller pool, but former governor Eliot Spitzer jumped into the race with only four days to get on the ballot. West Side residents, who suddenly have to pick between two policy-minded Jewish candidates with experience, sought refuge from the heat inside Artie’s Deli on Broadway and 83rd Street, ordering cold pastrami, coleslaw and, yes, even matzo ball soup in this weather. And Stringer, the hometown boy, is trailing. “Spitzer is a brave guy—man, he has something to prove,” Greg Merchant, an Artie’s customer, said. “He’s going to complete what he started. He made a mistake. I think he deserves another chance. I’ll vote for Spitzer.” A Quinnipiac poll released on July 15 found that Spitzer received support from 48 percent of Democratic voters while Stringer had only 33 percent of the vote. Even those Artie’s customers who were unaware of the poll believed that Spitzer was the front-runner for the race, despite resigning from office in the wake of a prostitution scandal in 2008. “He has a good chance now from seeing the news reports,” Bronx resident Laurie Kurlander said. “Personally I think it was too early for him to come back in, but I do think he has a chance. Do I really care why he did what he did?” Spitzer has likely benefited from high name recognition—and a public that may be inclined to forgive past transgressions. “I am of a forgiving nature,” Upper East Side resident Margaret Haynes said. “If we weren’t of a forgiving nature we wouldn’t have politicians anymore. In the past Spitzer was able to do some good things.” But don’t count out Stringer too quickly. Upper West Side residents have a deep relationship with the lawmaker, a former assemblyman in the state Legislature, and the borough president for nearly a decade. “I have heard good things about Stringer, and he’s involved with the community a lot,” Upper West Side voter Martin Appel said, adding he was leaning toward Stringer. “I know he helps the tennis courts at 96th Street because I play tennis there. He’s been very helpful for Riverside Park and its environs.” And some voters believe that what Spitzer did crossed a line—and that he’s rushing his political comeback. “I think it’s too soon,” Queens resi-
dent Brian Brennan said. “He’s got to do more to redeem himself. I think he can’t
be involved in the kind of scandal he was involved in and run for office just a few years later.” Even Artie’s generally tolerant wait staff disapproved of the escapades that forced Spitzer out of office. “I think he has a lot to do to redeem
himself,” Artie’s waiter Luis Gonzalez said. “Some of the activities he was doing [were on government] time as he was governor. I have nothing against him running for another position—it’s worrisome, that’s all.”
lives will it take? Dear Governor Cuomo, In light of recent murder charges against a New York City teenager who had escaped from a nonsecure residence under the state’s Close to Home initiative, and reports of residents being able to walk away from such facilities at will, CSEA urges you to suspend the program before further tragedy strikes. How many lives will it take? How many warnings from court officials about the threat to public safety are needed before it becomes clear that this juvenile reform program is putting New Yorkers in danger? As you fast tracked the initiative through the Legislature, CSEA questioned the wisdom of putting dangerous individuals back into the very neighborhoods where they got in trouble in the first place and warned lawmakers against rubberstamping the proposal without any details about how or if it would work. You and state legislators ignored our warnings. Alarming facts and figures, provided by your own officials, about the violent nature of the crimes committed by residents of state facilities slated to be moved to the community were also ignored. For years, CSEA has been sounding the alarm about dangerous OCFS policies that put staff, residents and communities at risk, from brutal attacks on front line workers in state detention centers to shootings and murders in the
LOCAL 1000 AFSCME, AFL-CIO DA N N Y D O N O H U E , P R E S I D E N T
8982_Close to Home Advertorial 7.458x10 CS.indd 1
community by juvenile offenders who were inappropriately released from state care. It has become frighteningly clear what happens when violent youth are dumped into communities that are unequipped to handle them. Yet, despite mounting evidence that the Close to Home initiative has been unsuccessful, your administration insists on doubling down on bad policy and closing additional state facilities, making a bad situation worse. If the intent of Close to Home was to save money, it hasn’t. If the intent was truly to move juveniles closer to their homes, then a better idea would be to repurpose the New York City-based OCFS facilities that were closed, and reinvest in the trained and experienced work force that knows how to deal with the problems these youth present. Instead of dumping more offenders into inadequate city-based programs, and putting more people at risk, we urge you to stop ignoring the concerns of CSEA, community members and law enforcement officials and develop a more responsible approach to New York’s juvenile justice system. Sincerely,
Danny Donohue is president of the nearly 300,000 member CSEA – New York’s Leading Union – representing workers doing every kind of job, in every part of New York.
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TOTTENVILLE, STATEN ISLAND W’S BAR & RESTAURANT
AN ALTERNATIVE VIEW OF BLOOMBERG ON STATEN ISLAND BY NICK POWELL
At W’s Bar & Restaurant, any discussion about local politics inevitably turns to the Obama presidency or the national debt. (Photo by Aaron Adler)
Politics is not the most popular discussion topic at W’s. On the spectrum of desirable barstool conversation, it lies somewhere between Greek philosophy and curling. When prompted, however, Tottenville locals reveal one overwhelmingly prevalent sentiment: that Mayor Michael Bloomberg epitomizes everything they do not want in a politician—a wealthy, socially liberal übercapitalist with a nanny state streak. So it was rather shocking when John and Anthony, two former Wall Street commodities traders—a singularly unique profession in the normally bluecollar, police- and firefighter-filled bar— mentioned that they admired the mayor, despite his political flaws. “Bloomberg’s a good businessman,” said John, a burly Tottenville resident with gray hair and a T-shirt that exposed an elaborate tattoo on his bicep. After working for financial firms like MF Global and Goldman Sachs over a 25-year period, he lost his job in 2008 during the economic crash. John said that his position became expendable once these companies realized it was cheaper to have “robots” do the work. He now worked in real estate, and said that he has Bloomberg to thank for an economic climate in the city that is ripe for development—a hallmark of Bloomberg’s tenure. “Housing’s on the rise, interest rates are 8
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“She’s good at what she does now, but I don’t think she’d make a good mayor. Then again, a junior senator from Illinois became president after missing 90 percent of his votes in the Senate, so what do I know?”
on the rise,” John said. “But the city isn’t approving many major developments that won’t be extremely profitable.” His pal, Anthony, from nearby Annadale—dressed in a blue golf shirt and shorts, with a youthful, tanned face that belied his age—also had positive things to say about Bloomberg’s business acumen. He ran the city “more like a magistrate than a mayor,” said Anthony, meaning it as a compliment. The fact that these men can even
utter Bloomberg’s name at W’s without furrowing their brow is unusual, but when the conversation turned to Bloomberg’s potential replacements, like many of the bar’s patrons, they were equal parts disinterested and intrigued by some of the candidates, namely one of the Democratic front-runners, Anthony Weiner. “I think Weiner will win, but he’s got some seriously weak moral character,” Anthony said. “He’s gotta be insecure. I mean who takes pictures of their [private parts] and sends it out to people?” John compared Weiner to Vito Fossella, another disgraced former congressman, saying that he ran into Fossella often in the neighborhood and that Weiner— who had a brief stint in the private sector in between resigning from Congress and running for mayor—should follow Fossella’s lead and go into lobbying. Fossella is a partner at Park Strategies, the consulting firm run by former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato. “[Fossella] looks great, he’s happy. He makes more than he ever did while he was in Congress,” John said. “Weiner should do that. What’s he want to run for mayor for?” Unlike a handful of W’s patrons who dislike Weiner’s Democratic rival Christine Quinn, John views her as relatively harmless, just simply not commanding enough to win the race and run the city. He added that he felt similarly about
Barack Obama’s chances in 2008, and was obviously proven wrong. “I don’t think she’s a strong enough leader for the job. She’s good at what she does now, but I don’t think she’d make a good mayor,” he said. “Then again, a junior senator from Illinois became president after missing 90 percent of his votes in the Senate, so what do I know?” That statement seemed to hint at John’s political leanings, and when pressed, both he and Anthony said they were registered Republicans, though they said voting along party lines in local elections is akin to wasting a vote. “Republicans have no chance in this city,” Anthony said. “I don’t care much about the mayoral race anyway.” John agreed. He was more concerned with what he perceives to be a rapidly growing government under Obama than evaluating the next leader of his city. “I vote Republican, I’m fiscally conservative and I like small government,” John said. “I don’t appreciate that the size of our government has tripled in the last few years.” The premium placed on national politics over the local races illustrates a confounding dichotomy in Tottenville. Inevitably, any discussion centered around politics circles back to Obama’s presidency or the mounting multitrilliondollar debt, topics that are important in the larger scope of government and politics but have little bearing on the issues John and Anthony say they care about, such as education or rising property taxes. Whether this detachment from local races is a function of concentrated media coverage around federal politics or a symptom of a deeper malaise attributable to what Tottenville voters perceive to be a weak crop of mayoral candidates is an open question. This much is clear: Mayoral candidates thinking about making a trip to this corner of the city and engaging the voting public may steal some undecided votes. The clock is ticking.
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L A ST LO O K
Our Perspective CANDIDATE COMPARISON Why Thompson, Lhota and Carrión are running for mayor of New York City BY MICHAEL JOHNSON
This month we interviewed three mayoral candidates in our Last Look – Bill Thompson, Joe Lhota, and Adolfo Carrion. It is still several months away, but there is a real possibility that these three men will be the final choices for voters in November. Bill Thompson is trailing Anthony Weiner and Christine Quinn in the most recent Democratic primary polls, but many political experts still feel that he stands a chance to make it into a run-off, where he could be a strong contender in a head-to-head battle. Joe Lhota is considered a slight favorite over John Catsimatidis in the Republican primary. And Adolfo Carrión is expected to be on the Independence Party line this fall. We asked all three candidates several similar questions in our extended interviews. Here is a quick recap of how each of them responded. Why Do You Want To Be Mayor? This may seem like a simple question, but how the candidates answer tells us a lot about their strategy and priorities. Both Bill Thompson and Adolfo Carrion talked about family history and how the city provided an opportunity to rise up through the middle class and secure a better life for their children. And both spoke about how they wanted to make sure New York continued to be a “city of opportunity.” It’s a narrative we are hearing a lot in the race, with Anthony Weiner and Christine Quinn also investing time and money into wooing the middle class. Republican Joe Lhota had a slightly different approach. He focused on creating an environment that would bring good jobs to the city. He also stressed the need to address the cost of living, saying that he wanted to make it affordable to live in New York again. Who Is The Best Mayor Ever? No two mayors are exactly alike, but
we asked the candidates which past mayors they might try and emulate if they are elected. Joe Lhota had high praise for Fiorello LaGuardia’s management of the city, pointing to the 99th mayor’s famous quote that “there was no Republican or Democratic way to pick up the trash.” Lhota added that his former boss Rudy Giuliani is the greatest living mayor. Both Thompson and Carrion were reluctant to pick one mayor as the best (though Carrion said if he had a gun to his head he would say Ed Koch). Instead, each one said he would draw inspiration from characteristics displayed by several past leaders. Thompson praised the John Lindsay for being “great in the street at his time,” and said that Ed Koch brought the city back at a time when the people were feeling beaten down. He went on to say that Koch did more for affordable housing than any mayor before or after his time. He also highlighted David Dinkins’ concern for children and safety, and praised Rudy Giuliani for continuing to emphasize public safety. Carrion also praised Dinkins for his warmth and charisma, saying that “people felt like he loved them.” But Carrion had highest accolades for LaGuardia and Koch and their ability to directly engage the public. A mayor “has to be willing to be vulnerable” and if they are they’ll will be strengthened by the interaction with the public, he said. Do You Support The Constitutional Amendment To Expand Gambling? On the ballot in November will be a constitutional amendment to expand casino gambling, but legislation passed in June exempts the city from getting casinos for seven years. All three candidates made it clear that the city should be eligible to have casinos. Lhota and Carrion said they would vote in favor of legalization, but Carrion made it clear that he is personally opposed to gambling although he sees the issue to be a fait accompli at this point. Thompson declined to answer the question, saying he was keeping his vote to himself.
Living Wage Law is Building a Better New York
By Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, RWDSU, UFCW
little over three years ago, a coalition of community and labor activists, religious leaders, and elected officials joined together with the RWDSU to announce the launch of the Living Wage NYC Campaign.
The main goal of the campaign was to pass living wage legislation that would boost wages for jobs created on new economic development projects and commercial developments that receive taxpayer support. At a time of rising poverty and growing income inequality, the campaign quickly became a movement for economic justice. In church pews and on the streets, civil rights leaders, faith leaders, working people, immigrants, and so many others across the city came together to echo the view that Dr. King preached in his final sermons: no working person should live in poverty. The result was the passage of the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, the most farreaching and robust living wage legislation in the country. The legislation has already positively covered thousands of new jobs and many development projects in New York City. The law has been in effect for more than nine months, and now covers over 12,000 new jobs across a range of new projects. The law has provided for living wage jobs — currently set at $10.20 an hour with benefits or $11.75 an hour without benefits — instead of poverty wage jobs that many taxpayer-funded development projects have created in the past. Mayor Bloomberg had sued to block the legislation, but his suit in federal court has already been thrown out. He and others in financial and business circles need to recognize and concede that their doomsday scenarios about companies and developers fleeing have been refuted. The New York City Industrial Development Agency (IDA), the agency directly responsible for assisting new economic development projects with taxpayer support, has been operating at full capacity with no change at all in the number of applications for subsidies since the living wage legislation went into effect. The sky has not fallen. Nothing was lost. In fact, plenty has been gained. Our business climate is as strong as before, and we are all better off with a higherwage economy. Thousands, not hundreds, of jobs will continue to be covered and more will be created. That means skeptics who said this legislation would have little impact have also been proven wrong. This legislation has real teeth. It proves that outdated notions of economic development are no longer acceptable. We will no longer tolerate billions of taxpayer dollars being spent to make wealthy developers and companies richer, while condemning countless New Yorkers to poverty. This legislation will move us toward greater fairness and justice. Our public investments in economic development and job creation will now help lift more New Yorkers out of poverty, expand the middle class, and make our city a better place to live and work. The purpose of living wage jobs must be to create and maintain good jobs and build strong communities. That is why the living wage legislation continues to be more important. A copy of the report “Economic Impact of the First Nine Months of Living Wage Legislation” can be found on the RWDSU website at www.rwdsu.org
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www.rwdsu.org www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 22, 2013
P O L I CY
What Detroit’s Bankruptcy Means For New York BY MICHAEL JOHNSON
McKenna Long’s Mark Kaufman discussed the role of the courts in municipal finance with CUNY’s Marc Shaw and Robert Ward, a state deputy comptroller. (Photo by Filip Wolak)
What does Detroit’s bankruptcy mean for New York? In the short term, not much. While it is alarming that a city of 700,000 people would file for bankruptcy–by far the largest U.S. city ever to file for Chapter 9–the development may have a minimal impact on the financially strapped cities in New York. Most local officials in financially strapped municipalities are already well aware of the severity of the situation. On June 20, City & State hosted its “State of Emergency” conference, where a panel discussion addressed the possibility of municipal bankruptcy spreading to New YorkThe general consensus was that bankruptcies in other states will likely scare the impacted parties to the negotiating table. One of the panelists, Mark Kaufman, a bankruptcy attorney for McKenna Long & Aldridge, argued the point. “Nobody sees bankruptcy as the answer. That’s a last resort,” Kaufman said. “What you need is a bankruptcy threat. The whole notion is, why would anybody sit at the table and say, ‘I’m ready to make concessions,’ unless you have an offer and then a stick in your hand to say, ‘Something worse could happen’? If you don’t have that dynamic—and half of the states, by the way, don’t have bankruptcy as an option— then there’s no dialogue that can really be had.” After the news of Detroit’s situation 10
JULY 22, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
broke on Thursday, Kaufman told City & State that all cities face unique circumstances and it is hard to compare the Motor City’s situation to a community in New York. But he did say that many municipalities in the state are dealing with similar underlying factors, and that he hoped that the news would continue to push elected officials and impacted parties to be proactive. “This underscores the need for cities where there is a making of distress, high healthcare costs, underfunded pension liabilities, large bond debts, to have a candid conversation with the constituencies,” he said. While what happened in Detroit and in Stockton, Calif. (previously the largest city to file for Chapter 9) is alarming, the bond market is not yet panicking. These examples are still seen mostly as outliers, as nearly all distressed communities are still opting to avoid restructuring and the uncertainty that comes with bankruptcy. But, if more and more communities follow Detroit’s approach of negotiated restructures, the bond market could destabilize, leading to higher costs for all municipalities. Yet for now, no New York communities appear to be following the Detroit’s lead.
Could new upstate casinos live up to the hype? By WILDER FLEMING
The state Legislature approved Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s controversial gambit to place nontribal gambling casinos in select upstate regions last month—but it remains an open question whether an expansion would live up to the governor’s vision of “destination resorts” that will dramatically boost the upstate economy. And while Cuomo has tirelessly promoted the plan as a way to create jobs and boost tourism upstate, the final say lies with the voters, who will decide whether to allow the proposal in a November referendum. So far the voters remain divided: A June Quinnipiac poll shows 48 percent of New Yorkers support amending the state constitution—the final legal hurdle blocking the proposal—and 45 percent opposed. Cuomo’s plan calls for the immediate construction of four upstate casinos: two in the Catskills, one in the Capital Region and one in the Southern Tier along the Pennsylvania border. After seven years three more would be built, with New York City on the table as a possible locale. But despite the governor’s enthusiasm, some experts aren’t so optimistic. “The days of ‘build it and they will come’ are over,” said Alan Woinski, who blogs about the gambling industry for Gaming USA Corp. “With how many casinos there are around the United States now … look at Ohio—they have four casinos and seven racetracks, and they’re all underperforming because they’re surrounded by states with other casinos.” Woinski said that the competition from casinos in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Connecticut could mean that only local gamblers would be interested in a casino in the Catskills. The success of the Resorts World Casino in Queens, which opened in 2011 with slot machines and electronic table games, has occurred simultaneously with plummeting revenues in Atlantic City. And New York is already home to five full-scale tribal casinos upstate. “This is why I call it a zero-sum game overall,” Woinski said. “We’ve reached a point where you can’t open another
casino and expect to grow the entire market, so you’re basically stealing from others. And if you destroy another casino, how successful are you, really?” Chad Cotti, a professor of economics at the University of Wisconsin’s Oshkosh College of Business who has studied the effects of gambling on local economies around the country, said that his research shows casinos providing an immediate increase in jobs, but minimal spillover into other industries “The casinos themselves are largely self-contained, so there tends not to be a meaningful effect that propels other industries or other jobs outside of the casino,” Cotti said. “In an urban area, the effect that a casino has on overall employment is negligible. But [where] you do see a boost is in rural counties.” Cotti, whose research also links rural casinos with an increase in drunk driving, says he hasn’t analyzed the effects of gambling on traditional vacation destinations specifically. But he doesn’t think it’s a stretch to imagine casinos boosting a region with a history of tourism. “Anecdotally, if you have areas that are predisposed to tourism,” he said, “the casinos could help bring people back.”
WITH HOW MANY CASINOS THERE ARE AROUND THE UNITED STATES NOW … LOOK AT OHIO—THEY HAVE FOUR CASINOS AND SEVEN RACETRACKS, AND THEY’RE ALL UNDERPERFORMING BECAUSE THEY’RE SURROUNDED BY STATES WITH OTHER CASINOS.
WATERFRONT Pros and cons of Bloomberg’s Seaport City proposal BY GRACE KELLY
The “Seaport City” proposal is part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s long-term plan to prepare for the impacts of a changing climate. (Source: The Mayor’s Office)
Could a replica of Battery Park City be in the Lower East Side’s future? Perhaps, but only if New York City’s next mayor carries out the vision of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Early last month Bloomberg released a 430-page statement called “A Stronger, More Resilient New York,” presenting the city’s plan of action to guard against future natural disasters. One part of this plan, which drew both praise and criticism from New Yorkers, is the so-called Seaport City, a “multi-purpose levee” along the eastern edge of lower Manhattan that would stretch from the Battery Maritime Building to Pier 35. The model for the new development is Battery Park City, which proved to be more resilient than other coastal areas during Superstorm Sandy. According to the mayor’s report, “this approach would provide the protective value of a traditional levee while also providing new land on which commercial and residential buildings could be constructed, both to accommodate the City’s growth and to help finance the construction of the multi-purpose levee.” However, also like Battery Park City, the project could take decades to be completed. As of now the Bloomberg administration is planning to launch an extensive study on the impact this levee could have on the surrounding urban area as well as the river ecology. The city would also need to create a landfill to use as the foundation for Seaport City, something that many people have criticized as unfeasible. Nonetheless, unlike many of the other
ideas that have been thrown around, Seaport City “has the virtue of creating new land which can be sold to pay for expensive protected infrastructure,” said Steve Cohen, the executive director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute. “Everything else proposed costs money but does not generate revenue and wealth.” According to Cohen, Seaport City will “in the long run, pay for itself,” but some believe that the city does not have economic resources to take on a project of this magnitude. Roland Lewis, the president of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance, said that the project may simply be too costly. “It’s a very expensive thing to do, and it takes a lot of time to get that sort of project approved,” he said. “Time is money. I think there are much more cost-effective ways to protect downtown. It’s unfeasible to install projects like Battery Park City in every place that’s impacted. It’s a hugely expensive way of doing it. There are natural dunes, gates and temporary gates. I doubt the new mayor, given the fiscal constraints that he’ll be under, will have the resources to go through with Seaport City.” The Seaport City project has not been factored into the mayor’s storm recovery budget. Moreover, only $15 billion of the $20 billion in projected spending has been accounted for, leaving a $5 billion gap. While Seaport City has been hotly debated in recent weeks, Battery Park City also received its fair share of criticism before it was constructed, with some even declaring it “impossible” to complete. “For many years Battery Park City was considered a failure,” Cohen said. “Today it is becoming a vibrant neighborhood.” www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 22, 2013
COV E R
THE NEXT ADMINISTRATION
Bloomberg’s deputies are on their way out. Who will replace them?
A mayor is often only as good as the administration she or he selects. Over his three terms Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been generally acclaimed for the quality of his appointees—with some notable exceptions (e.g., Cathie Black, Stephen Goldsmith). Now, after nearly 12 years, New York City will have its first new mayor, who will in turn appoint a whole new team of deputies, commissioners and advisors to implement and elaborate his or her philosophical approach to governance. City & State reached out to all of the leading mayoral candidates to ask whom they would seek out for their 12
JULY 22, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
respective cabinets if elected. Not surprisingly, the candidates were reluctant to specify their choices, no doubt out of an apprehension about recasting the race as a referendum on their potential selections rather than on themselves. Nonetheless, through a combination of off-the-record conversations with the candidates’ counselors and staffers, the prognostications of some of the city’s most knowledgeable political insiders and pure speculation, C&S has compiled the following list of contenders who might populate the next administration to occupy City Hall.
As we cannot foretell the future or read minds, we fully acknowledge that this list may largely differ from the squad the mayor-elect ultimately recruits, but we hope it will spark a provocative and worthwhile discussion about the appointed positions that are almost as important to the city’s future as the elected ones we are so focused on this season. If you would like to debate any of our guesses’ or if you believe we have unjustly left anyone off our list, we invite you to challenge us by leaving a comment on the online version of this story at www.cityandstateny.com or by tweeting us at @CityAndStateNY.
COV E R PRESS SECRETARY Wiley Norvell Public advocate’s press secretary Norvell cut his teeth as a spokesman for the transit lobbying group Transportation Alternatives.
DEPUTY MAYOR FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Dominick Williams Public advocate’s chief of staff This Princeton grad also served as de Blasio’s senior policy advisor and was an Obama 2012 associate policy director for state and local issues.
POLICE COMMISSIONER Bill Bratton Former New York City police commissioner De Blasio is one of several candidates who admire Bratton, the former top cop in Boston, New York and Los Angeles.
FIRST DEPUTY MAYOR Dan Cantor Working Families Party executive director After crashing the gate for many years, Cantor might like a view from the inside.
DEPUTY MAYOR FOR HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Ursulina Ramirez Public advocate’s senior policy advisor on social welfare, service delivery and education
POLICE COMMISSIONER Bill Bratton Former NYC police commissioner Weiner, like many Democratic candidates, admires Bratton.
Bill de Blasio New York City public advocate
COUNSEL TO THE MAYOR Steven Newmark Counsel to the public advocate
DEPUTY MAYOR FOR GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS AND COMMUNICATIONS Risa Heller Communications consultant Heller is a close advisor who helped guide Weiner back into the public sphere after his tweeting scandal.
PRESS SECRETARY Barbara Morgan Campaign press secretary Glen Caplin Former congressional press secretary
DEPUTY MAYOR FOR GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS AND COMMUNICATIONS Camille Joseph Deputy campaign manager Joseph also served as U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s director of intergovernmental
DEPUTY MAYOR FOR GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS AND COMMUNICATIONS Emma Wolfe De Blasio campaign’s political director The longtime de Blasio operative and former Working Families Party organizer will likely stay close to de Blasio in City Hall. Laurel Wright-Hinckson Public advocate’s senior press officer
COUNSEL TO THE MAYOR Eric Gioia Former city councilman Gioia remains a friend, and his spouse, Lisa Hernandez Gioia, raised money for Weiner’s campaign.
SENIOR ADVISOR Amit Bagga Campaign senior policy advisor Bagga served as Weiner’s chief of staff at the height of Tweetgate and returned to the fold when some former Weiner staffers joined other mayoral campaigns.
Anthony Weiner Former congressman
DEPUTY MAYOR FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Marc Dunkelman Former Weiner chief of staff Visiting fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center, senior fellow at the Clinton Foundation
www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 22, 2013
COV E R PRESS SECRETARY Jamie McShane Council Speaker’s spokesman
POLICE COMMISSIONER Ray Kelly Current police commissioner
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION COMMISSIONER OR PARKS COMMISSIONER James Gennaro City councilman
DEPUTY MAYOR FOR OPERATIONS Chuck Meara Council Speaker’s chief of staff
POLICY ADVISOR Anthony Hogrebe Campaign policy director Ademola Oyefeso Campaign political director
Christine Quinn City Council Speaker
PRESS SECRETARY Rob Ryan Campaign spokesman John Fox Campaign media director
POLICE COMMISSIONER Ray Kelly Current police commissioner
DEPUTY MAYOR FOR HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Tom Duane Quinn’s mentor and one of her closest allies professor
BUDGET DIRECTOR Preston Niblack City Council finance director
DEPUTY MAYOR Rudy Washington Real estate consultant Washington, a former Giuliani deputy mayor, has endorsed Catsimatidis.
SCHOOLS CHANCELLOR Tom Allon City & State publisher
Owner, Gristedes grocery chain
FIRST DEPUTY MAYOR AND DEPUTY MAYOR OF OPERATIONS Lhota has said he would combine the two positions.
POLICE COMMISSIONER Ray Kelly Current police commissioner Joseph Esposito Former NYPD chief of department Joseph Dunne Port Authority’s first chief security officer
PRESS SECRETARY Jessica Proud Campaign press spokeswoman
DEPUTY MAYOR FOR OPERATIONS Chuck Meara Council Speaker’s chief of staff
DEPUTY MAYOR FOR GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS AND COMMUNICATIONS Susan Del Percio Campaign advisor
JULY 22, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
Joe Lhota Former chief of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority
SCHOOLS CHANCELLOR Rudy Crew President of Medgar Evers College Crew served as chancellor of the New York City Board of Education when Rudy Giuliani was mayor. Paul Vallas Former CEO of Chicago Public Schools and the school district of Philadelphia
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Politics • Policy • Personalities
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The Way to Reach Elected Officials For advertising information, please contact Jim Katocin at 212-284-9714 or Jkatocin@cityandstateny.com www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 22, 2013
COV E R PRESS SECRETARY Sharon Huang Campaign spokeswoman
DEPUTY MAYOR FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Lawrence Schloss Deputy comptroller for pensions, chief investment officer Schloss has extensive experience in private equity and in banking.
SENIOR ADVISOR Chung Seto Campaign manager One of Liu’s closest allies
DEPUTY MAYOR FOR HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES Cynthia Doty Democratic district leader A single-payer health advocate, Doty endorsed Liu early in the mayor’s race.
FIRST DEPUTY MAYOR Dan Cantor Working Families Party executive director After crashing the gate for many years, Cantor might like a view from the inside.
John Liu New York City comptroller DEPUTY MAYOR FOR GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS AND COMMUNICATIONS Mei-Hua Ru Comptroller’s scheduler The Queens power broker accompanies Liu to most of his events and has been described as his most aggressive gatekeeper.
COUNSEL TO THE MAYOR Valerie Budzik General counsel, deputy comptroller for legal affairs
PRESS SECRETARY Ibrahim Khan Campaign spokesman Dani Lever Campaign spokeswoman
DEPUTY MAYOR FOR GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS AND COMMUNICATIONS Jonathan Prince Campaign manager John Collins Campaign communications director
POLICY ADVISOR Kim Ramos Campaign political director
FIRST DEPUTY MAYOR FOR OPERATIONS Eduardo Castell Campaign advisor Castell was a top deputy to Thompson when he was city comptroller.
Bill Thompson SENIOR ADVISOR Gayle Horwitz Nardello & Co. chief operating officer Horwitz was Thompson’s first deputy comptroller, and the two ran the Battery Park City Authority.
JULY 22, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
DEPUTY MAYOR FOR OPERATIONS Ricardo Morales First deputy comptroller Morales once managed NYCHA, the largest public housing authority in North America, and has 28 years of legal and executive experience.
Former city comptroller
COUNSEL TO THE MAYOR Stanley Schlein Lawyer and political operative
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Mayor: Alec Baldwin. He already thinks he’s your mayor anyway—and admit it, you secretly want him in City Hall. Press Secretary: Allison Janney. If she could handle Aaron Sorkin she can handle David Seifaman. Police Commissioner: Tom Selleck. This Blue Blood can stop and frisk us any day he wants. Senior Advisor: Bradley Whitford. We can’t do this list and not include Josh Lyman. First Deputy Mayor: Michael J. Fox. Our favorite TV deputy mayor of all time...not that there are a lot of them. Economic Development Corporation President: P. Diddy. His net worth is $580 million, yet nobody knows what Diddy actually does. This is the kind of economic revitalization our city needs. Deputy Mayor for Communications: Louis C.K. His Twitter meltdowns would be more hilarious than Howard Wolfson’s. Deputy Mayor for Operations:
If we were making a movie about the next mayor’s administration, here’s who we would cast:
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Denzel Washington. Denzel has stopped a runaway freight train, broken up a subway hostage situation, landed a defective plane while high on drugs and showed Ethan Hawke who’s boss. Cas Holloway can’t even do one of those things. Fire Commissioner: Denis Leary. He knows enough about actual firefighting to do the job. Transportation Commissioner: Sarah Jessica Parker. Like Carrie would say, “So many roads. So many detours. So many choices. So many mistakes.” Department of Education: Paul Feig and Judd Apatow. They turned around the romantic comedy, they can turn around our public education system. Taxi and Limousine Commission: Robert De Niro. He’ll work anywhere, anytime. Even on Jewish holidays. Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: John C. McGinley. Dr. Cox can change a diaper in 20 seconds. Re-he-he-he-he-heally. Parks and Recreation Department Commissioner: Amy Poehler. We’re about to endorse 10 beers into our mouths because this has been a very stressful transition team planning session. —Aaron Short
www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 22, 2013
I SS U E S P OT L I G H T HOSPITALITY & TOURISM
H EA D I N G UP STATE Driving tourists beyond
New York State Tourism spending
New York City’s borders By WILDER FLEMING
$9,569,000 $9,169,000 $9,169,000
Source: New York State Division of Budget *Includes $30 million in federal funds
A record 52 million tourists visited New York City last year, the latest milestone in a trend that was built on an aggressive promotion of the city’s global brand, especially in emerging markets like Brazil, India and China. Now Gov. Andrew Cuomo is encouraging these international visitors to check out upstate and Long Island too—even if his bid to build several “destination” casino resorts falls through. The governor announced $60 million in funding to promote tourism this year, including $30 million in federal dollars. And with the appointment of NYC & Company’s former president and CEO, Cristyne Nicholas, as chair of the New York State Tourism Advisory Council, Cuomo is hoping that the rest of the state can be successfully branded as well. “If you’re living in Germany, the way you’re going to buy travel for the most part is you go into a travel agency … [and] say, ‘I want to have a room, and I want to go to the Empire State Building,’ ” Nicholas told City & State. “So we need to get to those folks that are selling the products to say, ‘Do you know that it’s really easy to take an hour flight to Niagara Falls? Or that within a two-hour train ride, you can be in the Hudson Valley and go on a wine tour?’ ” “I Love NY” is also back in the spotlight, with the latest campaign targeting LGBT couples; other versions 18
JULY 22, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
aimed at Asian and South American markets are also in the works. A new “Taste NY” initiative promotes local cuisine across the state. Welcome centers will be going up around the state, and “visitor touch points” promoting upstate attractions will soon debut in Times Square. In addition, the state is launching a concerted effort to attract major sporting events and conventions to regional venues. “We’re looking at big events that have the capacity of so many people, so many eyeballs, so many potential visitors,” Nicholas said, listing the governor’s recent Adirondack Challenge Festival, the PGA Championship in Rochester later this summer and the Super Bowl in 2014 as examples. “Having the governor be the greatest spokesperson for these events will certainly build the events and help tourism and become tourism generators.” New York State saw an 8.3 percent jump in tourism spending in 2011 and a 6.2 percent increase in 2012, up to $57.3 billion, according to a recent state report. Every region saw growth last year, but downstate areas grew the most, with New York City swelling 7.3 percent, to $37.1 billion, and Long Island rising by 6.3 percent, to $5.1 billion. Together the two regions account for over 70 percent of overall tourism spending in the state.
“There’s a lot of room for growth,” said Heather Briccetti, president and CEO of the Business Council of New York State. “New York City has the advantage of being a top tourism destination, and the governor recognizes that there could be a way to connect this incredible influx of people from all over the world to the rest of the state.” Growth in Greater Niagara, Thousand Islands and Central New York was 5 percent or higher in 2012, while the Finger Lakes region and Chautauqua-Allegheny experienced the lowest growth, at only 1 to 2 percent. Aside from Long Island, the Catskills was the only other region to see higher growth (4 percent) in 2012 than in 2011. Statewide, the industry employs 712,000 people and generates $29 billion in annual wages. Briccetti says New York State’s attractions, like the burgeoning wine and craft beer industries, are ripe for tourism. “There are literally hundreds of events that have unique audiences that take place across upstate New York,” she said. “The antique festival in Syracuse, the Adirondack balloon festival, NASCAR at Watkin’s Glen.” This year Cuomo has also directed $90 million to repairing the state park system, above and beyond baseline funding and the recovery from Superstorm Sandy. State parks drew over 60 million visitors last year. According to a 2009 report published by Parks & Trails New York, the parks generate up to $1.9 billion in visitor spending annually, 40 percent of which comes from outside the communities in which the parks are located. Josh Vlasto, the governor’s chief of staff, said that just looking at the numbers makes clear the importance of tourism in the state: One in 12 jobs in New York is related to tourism, which brings in $56 billion in direct visitor spending and $7 billion in state and local taxes generated. “We need more,” Vlasto said at a recent event in Manhattan touting the state’s tourism industry. “And everywhere I travel across the state with the governor, he realizes that this is an industry that’s growing.” —Additional reporting by Jon Lentz
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I SS U E S P OT L I G H T HOSPITALITY & TOURISM
Tourist influx helping economy, but some question New York City’s direction
doesn’t mean that they’re just not shuttling back and forth to Manhattan,” the councilman said. “Even though you’re physically staying at a hotel in Long Island City, there is still work to be done to get those folks to have pamphlets in their hands, to have promotional materials at the front desks and in those places where they’re going, directing them to perhaps a museum that’s just down the street.”
BY JON LENTZ
“WE ALSO WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT PEOPLE ARE EXPERIENCING WAVE HILL IN THE BRONX AND SNUG HARBOR ON STATEN ISLAND, THE AQUARIUM DOWN IN CONEY ISLAND AND FLUSHING TOWN HALL”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg attended the 2013 Major League Baseball All-Star Game earlier this month. (SOURCE: THE MAYOR’S OFFICE)
New York City’s booming tourism sector has been a tale of remarkable success, from the more than 363,000 tourism jobs in the city to a record-breaking 52 million visitors and $3.3 billion in city tax revenue last year. But while the influx of tourists has boosted the local economy and bolstered New York City’s recovery, some public officials and industry players say that there is still plenty of room for improvement. “The economic benefit is something that we all recognize as being one of the real success stories in New York over the last several years,” said New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. “We want to make sure those economic benefits are felt in Queens and the Bronx and Staten Island and Brooklyn, and not just by our good friends in Manhattan.” Besides the Manhattan-centered focus, other concerns include regulations for restaurants and nightclubs in the city, the 20 JULY 22, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
potential disadvantages of rapid hotel growth and exaggerated estimates about the benefits of large sporting events. THE OUTER BOROUGHS Van Bramer, who chairs the City Council’s Committee on Cultural Affairs, said that investing in institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Modern Art is “absolutely vital” to the city’s success. With about 25 million of the city’s visitors—or about half of the annual total—arriving primarily to see cultural attractions, Van Bramer suggested the city and its tourism arm could do more to promote less recognizable destinations. “We also want to make sure that people are experiencing Wave Hill in the Bronx and Snug Harbor on Staten Island, the aquarium down in Coney Island and Flushing Town Hall,” he said. “Those places are quite remarkable, and some tourists don’t leave the city center, but more and more are looking to experience things that are off the beaten path.”
NYC & Company, the city’s publicprivate tourism arm, has taken some steps to broaden its reach, said spokeswoman Kimberly Spell. The organization’s “Neighborhood x Neighborhood” program showcases lesser known parts of the city as part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s fiveborough economic development strategy. As evidence that the strategy is working, Spell pointed to a growing number of repeat visitors, who are more likely to visit “hidden gems” outside of Manhattan, and to the strong growth in hotel construction in the outer boroughs—including more than 70 hotels built since 2006. Yet Van Bramer said that the influx of hotel accommodations in his district, including 18 built in Long Island City in just four years, wasn’t necessarily a reason to celebrate. Attractions like the Noguchi Museum and Socrates Sculpture Park are just “a hop, skip and jump away” from many of the new Queens hotels, but they are still overlooked. “Just because someone is staying, for example, at the Z Hotel in Long Island City
HOTEL BUBBLE? For most people involved in the city’s tourism industry, the hotel expansion is a positive sign. Since 2006 167 new hotels have been built in the city, increasing the number of rooms by 25 percent, according to a new report from NYC & Company. The average salary for hotel workers, at about $53,000, exceeds New York City’s median salary, and the occupancy rate has stayed remarkably high, even amid the frenzy of new hotel construction. “There’s a real success story there in the hotel sector,” Spell said. Still, some are concerned that the market is overheating. Josh Gold, the political director at New York Hotel Trades Council, said that the pipeline of new hotels planned “raises some flags to make sure that we don’t oversaturate the marketplace.” “We have a high occupancy rate, which is one of the reasons that hotel investors are interested in building in the city,” he said. “It’s also a concern that when you increase supply, that if demand doesn’t increase along with supply, your occupancy rate will drop, the average daily room rate will drop, and more hotels may have concerns, so you never want to get into a place where you’re increasing supply too much.”
RESTAURANT REGULATIONS Restaurant owners and trade associations acknowledge that the tourism boom has benefited their industry, as has initiatives like the city’s Restaurant Week, but they also have complaints about what they say are burdensome regulations. The Bloomberg administration created a “New Business Acceleration Team” to help expedite the regulatory process, and the New York City Council recently announced a package of legislation that would reduce fines and make other changes to help restaurateurs. “New York City is an amazing place to run a restaurant or a nightlife venue, but it’s also very challenging,” said Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York
BIG SPORTS New York City is also home to an array of pro sports teams, and Bloomberg has made it a priority to recruit major sporting events. A bid for the 2012 Olympics fell through, but the 2014 Super Bowl will be held across the river in New Jersey, and the city is treating the event as its own, with a five-day “Super Bowl Boulevard” event planned in Manhattan. This year’s Major League Baseball AllStar Game was held at the Mets’ Citi Field earlier this month, which the Bloomberg administration estimated would generate a $191.5 million economic impact. But such estimates are typically exaggerated, said Victor Matheson, an economics professor at College of the
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Hospitality Alliance. “Not only are food costs and labor costs high but the regulatory atmosphere can be very challenging. We’ve seen an increase in fines over the years, which now we have been working [on] with the administration and the Council.” Ken Biberaj, a vice president of the Russian Tea Room and a candidate for a City Council seat on the Upper West Side, has made improving conditions for restaurants and other small businesses a key part of his platform. He complained that entrepreneurs face a regulatory process that can take 18 months before they can open a restaurant, and that once their establishment opens, “the city hammers you with fines and violations just to raise revenue.” “I think with a tightening budget next year, we really need to invest more,” he said. “The tourism industry is something that tangibly has a return on investment, and the Council and the mayor really need to invest in our cultural institutions, really need to make it easier for our small businesses and to create an environment where we really succeed instead of hitting them with fines.”
Holy Cross in Massachusetts. Matheson said that using existing sports facilities for major events makes good economic sense, but that touting future revenues from major events to help sell a new stadium or an expansion is a shakier proposition. “Given the fact that you’ve already committed a lot of private and public money to building both Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, it certainly makes sense to use those facilities as much as you can,” he said. “I think the main thing that economists would be very concerned about is using these economic impact estimates to then subsidize future investments in sports infrastructure, because most economists who look at these numbers—who aren’t related to the teams or the league or the city tourism board—find these numbers highly inflated.” Then again, money isn’t everything. “Most independent studies of mega events like the All-Star Game have found very underwhelming economic impacts, but there’s some good evidence that events like this tend to make people happy in the host cities,” Matheson added. “So while the All-Star Game may make you happy, it’s just not likely to make you rich.”
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I SS U E S P OT L I G H T HOSPITALITY & TOURISM
THE ROUNDTABLE Cristyne Nicholas Chair, New York State Tourism Advisory Council
Q: What are your top goals as chair of the state’s Tourism Advisory Council? CN: To get New York State tourism properly recognized—which this governor is not only doing, but he’s putting a big spotlight on tourism. And then the funding was key. I’ve been involved in tourism agencies throughout the years, and we always thought that the benchmark funding to operate “I Love New York” properly should be about $30 million. This year the governor is dedicating $60 million, $30 million of which is going to be dedicated to ads that will showcase the areas that were hit by Sandy and Irene. That money is federal money. This is a special year because we have to make up for the losses that we incurred. Q: What will the $30 million in state funds be spent on? CN: Additional advertising. To increase tourism, it won’t happen overnight. So you need to look at what you can do to affect the market in the short term, attracting and supporting and promoting the events that we already have. What you want to do is to try to bring in new events. We’re going to have Taste New York pavilions at the PGA Tour, at the Super Bowl and at the Adirondack Challenge. We have some old events, like Saratoga turning 150. And then we are also working with the international market. Traditionally we really haven’t been working with the tour operators. So that’s going to be a whole new way of looking at it. It’s going to take years to establish those relationships, but we have to start now. Q: You once ran New York City’s tourism agency. What could be replicated on the state level? CN: We created this whole division of big events at NYC & Company, so we are doing that and applying it statewide. We did open a lot of international offices, so we do understand how to deal with tour operators and those relationships. Really working the media and introducing the media through fan familiarization tours, really increasing that outreach. It’s something I know not just from NYC & Company but as my former role as press secretary [to Mayor Giuliani]—I understand the role the media plays and how important it can be as far as educating and informing the public. 22 JULY22, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
Jimmy Van Bramer
Chair, New York State Assembly Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development
Chair, New York State Senate Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation
Chair, New York City Council Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and Intergroup Relations
Q: What is your top priority in terms of tourism? BL: Getting more people here. As chair of the Senate tourism committee and representing much of the Adirondacks, I see every day how important and effective tourism is as an economic driver. It really is integral to the state’s economic recovery. Tourism is a big industry that comprises thousands of businesses, many of them small mom-and-pop operations. They’re here to stay, so long as they can succeed. And when they succeed, they reinvest, hire more people and spend their money in the local community.
Q: What are you most proud of, in terms of tourism legislation? JVB: The enormous investment, in terms of capital dollars, in our cultural organizations and institutions. The reason we have 25 million tourists who are coming to the city of New York, who say that the thing that drove them here was our cultural and artistic offerings, is because those places are very desirable to go to. If we continue to invest even more in those institutions and organizations, we will only continue to make them more desirable to come to. We will make people want to come and visit them again. So it’s really critical that we continue to invest. If we scale back or somehow say we’ve done enough—and we’ve had to fight cuts to the arts budget—we will just be shooting ourselves in the foot. This year restored funding for the arts 100 percent. We were facing a $65 million budget cut. We restored every single dime of that, and then in addition to that, over $100 million in cultural capital was allocated this year, as we have for the last four years. That’s a very smart investment.
Q: What is your top priority in terms of tourism? MM: One of my highest priorities has been an equitable distribution of funding for promotion of all the state’s tourism regions, including the boroughs of New York City. The “I Love New York” program is particularly important to the state’s economy, and I am delighted that this year we have made the highest allocation ever for marketing the various regions of New York State. We are seeing the positive impact of this funding in the excellent new commercials now being aired in the metropolitan market. Ken Adams and his state Economic Development agency deserve a lot of credit for this new campaign, [which] is sure to draw both New Yorkers and visitors from surrounding states. Just as important to me as the marketing of upstate areas is the promotion of the boroughs outside Manhattan. NYC & Company estimates that there are 52 million visitors to New York every year, and Queens alone receives some 10 million of them. That means approximately $8 billion in economic activity every year and some 43,000 jobs—so it is clear that tourism is a huge segment of my home borough’s economy, and the same is true for Brooklyn and perhaps to a lesser extent the Bronx and Staten Island. Examples of new state funding this year for borough initiatives are grants to support the work of the Queens Tourism Council and to create and market a new smartphone app: “This is Queens.” Q: Did the Assembly pass any key tourism-oriented legislation this past session? MM: One of this year’s most important legislative highlights was our renewal of ticket reselling legislation for entertainment, sports and cultural events—originally enacted in 2009—and continuing to ensure the strong protections for consumers. The subject of mixed martial arts also received a lot of attention this session. After extensive discussion in committee and among members, we decided not to move forward with the bill this year. We want more serious answers about brain injury and long-term health consequences for participants before permitting this form of entertainment in New York State.
Q: Did the state Senate pass any key tourism-oriented legislation this past session? BL: The state budget is where we saw the focus on tourism, and that’s where we need it most. The budget increased funding for statewide and local tourism promotion, which is great news. I was pleased to usher through legislation creating a wine trail in the North Country. With so many visitors passing through the Adirondack region, especially those traveling between Montreal and New York City, a wine trail is a great way to promote a local product and entice people to venture off the Northway and see what some of our small communities offer. My partner leading the committee, state Sen. José Serrano, sponsored legislation that would require the placement of the “I Love NY” logo and website link on the home pages of various state agencies. It’s a minimal cost, easy to do and would no doubt direct more traffic to the state’s tourism site. It passed both houses and will be sent to the governor for consideration. Not related to legislation but maybe of interest to some readers is an initiative I’m working on with Senator Schumer, local chambers of commerce and biking groups to establish a dedicated rail car on Amtrak for cyclists. There are a lot of people in New York City who would love a long weekend away in the country, but they don’t own a car. Q: How has the slow economic recovery affected the state’s tourism spending? BL: The same as every other state program and service. My argument is, the tremendous return on funding invested in tourism promotion can’t be denied.
Q: What should the next mayor do? JVB: Baselining funding for cultural organizations and baselining our budget for the Department of Cultural Affairs. We fight this battle every year. It’s kind of silly to fight it when we all recognize how important culture and the arts are in terms of driving tourism and generating literally billions in revenue for the city of New York. Really, one of the things we should do first off next year with a new mayor and a new Speaker is baseline funding for the arts and stop this ridiculousness. Q: What else is going on? JVB: One of the exciting things that’s happening is a continuation and hopefully an expansion of ferry service on the East River. We just completed the Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island, and tying in the ferry and the cultural amenities that are around it is really an important opportunity for NYC & Company to work with the ferry operators—and at some point Roosevelt Island is going to get a ferry stop, and Four Freedoms Park would be a great place for people to experience, but there are other places along the route that would be terrific for them to see.
S P OT L I G H T
HOSPITALITY & TOURISM THE ISSUES
Casinos: Cuomo has pushed to legalize full-scale casino gambling in New York, and by limiting any expansion to upstate New York he has framed it as a way to aid the tourism industry—and struggling municipalities—outside of New York City. The governor had one early misstep when his plan to replace Manhattan’s Javits Center with a new convention center at the Resorts World racino in Queens fell through. He has since secured second passage of a constitutional amendment in the state Legislature this year, although the measure still must be approved by voters in a public referendum this fall, which is no sure thing.
THE STATE Gov. Andrew Cuomo has increasingly made tourism a priority of his administration, pitching expanded casino gambling to help the upstate economy, holding summits for the state’s yogurt, beer and wine industries and, earlier this year, setting aside more funding to attract visitors to the state. In March Gavin Landry joined Empire State Development as executive director of its tourism division, which oversees the “I Love New York” marketing campaign. Landry also coordinates with the governor’s Tourism Advisory Council, which is chaired by Cristyne Nicholas, a communications specialist and veteran tourism official. In the state Legislature, state Sen. Betty Little chairs the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation, while Assemblywoman Margaret Markey chairs the Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development.
Global travel: Officials at both the city and the state level have identified international tourism as a key to bringing in more revenue, especially since visitors from overseas tend to spend more money than domestic tourists ($1,600 for an average international tourist compared with $471 for a domestic visitor, according to city figures). New York City’s global brand makes it the country’s top international travel destination, and growing numbers of visitors from Brazil, India and China have helped weather the impact of the sluggish European economy.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has long made tourism a top priority of his administration, relying on it to boost New York City after the attacks of 9/11 and to diversify the city’s finance-oriented economy. In 2006 he combined several agencies into NYC & Company, a public-private partnership that is the city’s official marketing and tourism organization. NYC & Company is run by CEO George Fertitta, and its chair is Emily Rafferty, the president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer chairs the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations.
LGBT: New York passed same-sex marriage in 2011, and government officials have latched onto the new law as another way to attract more visitors to the state. According to the Cuomo administration, LGBT tourism accounts for about $70 million in annual spending across the U.S. Last month the governor launched a new “I Love NY LGBT” tourism website, and his office has touted the state’s many ski slopes and wineries and an I Love Lucy museum. New York City also has an “NYC I Do” campaign to market opportunities for same-sex weddings and honeymoons.
BY THE NUMBERS
Visiting New York Visitors (in millions) New York State New York City
Fun Fact: Adirondack Park covers 6 million acres, enough space for Yosemite, the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone all to fit within it.
Sources: NYC.gov, Empire State Development
150 144.0 110.3
46.0 42.7 37.8
Cuomo chief of staff
“Throughout state government over the last two and a half years, the governor has tried to transform state government into an engine for business growth to create jobs across the state. And what this governor realized when he came into office is that tourism is one of our most vital industries. New York is open for business, and tourism is big business in New York.”
2011 www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 22, 2013
Council Watch BY SETH BARRON
The City Council funding process is so intentionally opaque, so fragmented and jackstraw-shaped that it should be no surprise to find Council members from Kew Gardens or the Upper West Side sponsoring $75,000 allocations for the High Line. Yet even one such member was surprised to discover that she had been credited, in the 2013 fiscal year budget, with making an unusual out-ofdistrict allotment to the elevated park. Councilwoman Gale Brewer, asked why she had given money to the High Line, which is not in her district, flatly denied the designation, insisting, “First time I ever heard about it.” The High Line is revered internationally for repurposing a post-industrial wreck into a refreshing aesthetic public experience. The park has also anchored an explosion of billions of dollars of high-end development in the Council-rezoned “Special West Chelsea District,” designed specifically around the High Line. The organization that built and runs the park, Friends of the High Line, is dominated by a wealthy and politically connected coterie of real estate developers and property owners, which has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars, directly and as intermediaries, into Christine Quinn’s mayoral election campaign. Friends of the High Line, formed in 1999 as a tiny nonprofit by two civicminded fans of urban decrepitude, has quickly become the richest park conservancy in the city, after the Central Park Conservancy. Friends of the High Line raises double the revenue of the Prospect Park Alliance, for instance, and takes in more than 20 times as much as the Friends of Hudson River Park. There is something about Friends of the High Line, however, that makes it very different from these other organizations. First, there was an actual Central Park, and later the Central Park Conservancy was formed to take care of it. In the case of the High Line, first there was a group of real estate developers called Friends of the High Line, and then they built a park to be friends with, making sure that zoning rules were changed to facilitate the right kind of residential property alongside it. The development of the High Line was coterminous with the development of the area around the High Line. The City Council, first under Gifford Miller and then Christine Quinn, has doused the High Line with cash. Estimates of city funding for the High Line before it even opened range between $130 and $170 million: This money was only for improvement of an existing structure, because the rail line itself was donated to the city by the CSX Corporation. Since the park opened, despite the largesse of FoHL and its claims that 90 percent of park expenses are raised privately, the Council continues to make allocations to its expansion and maintenance, including a $5 million capital disbursement two years ago. When the City Council “slush fund” scandal was revealed five years ago, it turned out that the largest beneficiary of these improper disbursements was the High Line. The scandal, in which the Speaker’s office budgeted Council funds to shell organizations in order to dispense the money later to favored groups, resulted in $290,000 going to FoHL. The group has received yearly allocations of $75,000 to $100,000 from the Council since then. 24 JULY 22, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
These allocations are typically assigned the “CC” label in the budget’s Schedule C, indicating that the money is from the Council generally, but the money is in fact assigned through the Speaker’s office: Such allocations are known informally as the “Speaker’s List.” Until 2008 CC designations were officially called “Speaker” designations. After that point, under the mandate of transparency, the Speaker’s office obscured the true source of the funds by designating them as coming from the Council as a whole. In almost every case, CC allocations are assigned a sponsor: a Council member who has presumably pushed for the funding. However, sponsors are not necessarily
The High Line has spurred billions of dollars in high-end development. (Source: Jesse Kunerth/Shutterstock)
project boosters but simply placeholders to provide cover to the Speaker. For instance, the 2009 budget indicates that now Assemblyman David Weprin from Queens sponsored a $90,000 allocation to FoHL. Asked why he would make such a generous designation to a group far out of his district, Weprin explained with remarkable candor the actual operation of the budgetary process. “As chair of the Finance Committee at the time, I had a lot of interaction with the High Line,” Weprin said. “We were asked by the Speaker to indicate projects we had something to do with. My guess is that no one else put their name next to it, or I was the only one willing to own up to it.” Asked how these items originate, Weprin explained that “the Speaker’s office in coordination with Council finance staff make a lot of these decisions. Not everything is member-driven: A lot of it is process-driven.”
A large portion of the Council’s discretionary spending, as much as 20 percent according to Citizens Union, is controlled directly by the Speaker; when we include capital funding, which is much more loosely distributed, the Speaker’s directed allocations go as high as 80 percent. To say that allocations are “process-driven” is to mean that existing and favored projects draw resources in a manner determined not by the Council in plenum but by planners and Council apparatchiks appointed by the Speaker to carry out her agenda. State Sen. Tony Avella, who was a Council member during the slush fund period, averred that the Speaker dictates the entire discretionary budgeting process. “Quinn controls everything,” Avella said. “Quinn uses Council funding for her own political purposes, and anyone who moves against her is punished.” Asked if reforms implemented by the Speaker following the slush fund revelations changed the process, Avella said, “No. She just moved things around to hide what she was doing.” Avella said he was never pressured by Quinn’s office to support the High Line, but added, “All funding of anything important is directed by the Speaker.” In 2010 and 2011 FoHL received Speaker’s List allocations of $75,000 each year, without a designated sponsor member. In 2012 Councilwoman Gale Brewer was credited as having sponsored the same amount to go to FoHL. Asked about the member item, Brewer insisted she had no idea how her name wound up next to it: “I support the High Line and think it is a fine project, but I never allocated any money towards it.” Referred to the Speaker’s office, I inquired about the apparent disjunction. Jamie McShane, the Speaker’s spokesman, explained that Brewer’s name appears as a “reporting error…a mistake.” Asked for an elaboration, McShane repeated, “It is a mistake, a mistake. What is so complicated about that?” It isn’t complicated, actually. The Speaker likes to give the High Line around $75,000 a year, and maybe it made sense last year to try to obscure that disbursement by assigning it to another Council member. Or maybe not. It is up to her, and nobody seems to question Quinn’s control of the smidgen of the city budget (less than 1 percent) that is given to the Council to play around with. This brings us to the question of what the High Line is really for. Is it actually an homage to our industrial past? After all, urban decay is not a rarity in New York. There are disused rail lines and crumbling staircases everywhere. Seen Highbridge Park lately? Or Willets Point? The High Line is pretty, and tourists like it. But it isn’t really a “park” as most New Yorkers would define one. You can’t bike or run on it, or sunbathe. You can’t walk your dog on it. Kids can’t really enjoy it. There is limited seating. The real question is, why give money to the FoHL at all? They don’t need it. The organization is awash in cash from its board and corporate sponsors. The High Line floats in the center of billions of dollars of residential real estate that was built specifically around it. One of the highest paid staffers for the FoHL is a person listed officially as “Director of Food,” who makes more than $100,000 per year. It doesn’t seem like they would miss an annual five-figure disbursement if the Council decided to direct the money toward some other park. Perhaps the Council’s little allocations are more like tribute than funding: annual tokens that the Speaker makes to the real estate and special interests to whom she owes so much. And they accept it because it affirms to them that here, here is someone we can trust, who will continue to do our bidding.
PERSPECTIVES MICHAEL BENJAMIN
THE CHAMPION UNDERDOG FOR PUBLIC ADVOCATE
hile the New York media have been concerned with the travails of bad boys running for mayor and comptroller, Cathy Guerriero, a little known but energetic professorial dynamo has been crisscrossing the five boroughs like a veritable (“bing, bing, bing”) Ricochet Rabbit. Her frenetic schedule nearly rivals that of John Liu, who is also seemingly ubiquitous. Cathy burst into the collective media consciousness late last month when a poll showed her besting most of her better known, more moneyed and politically connected competitors in the public advocate’s race. I met Guerriero for coffee in April when few people were aware of her candidacy. I came away impressed, as much by her academic pedigree as her “no fear” approach to her maiden political voyage. Upon hearing her distinct outer borough accent that morning, I was convinced she could connect with the working class New Yorkers I grew up knowing; elites, however, upon hearing that accent, would place her in an unflattering box and quickly dismiss her chances. Guerriero possesses the bearing that accompanies a successful athlete. As a student at Curtis High School on Staten Island she earned “Player of the Year” honors for basketball and softball, plus all-city, all-state and all-
borough honors. She and her three sisters—Clare, Dorothy and Cindy Lou—collectively scored 5,317 points in their high school careers, making them the state record holders for most points scored by siblings in girls’ high school sports history. After declining a congressional appointment to West Point, the Staten Island native opted to attend Wagner College on a basketball scholarship. Guerriero is the living embodiment of Title IX, the landmark civil rights legislation signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1972. Title IX banned sex discrimination in education and athletics. It’s the most successful affirmative action program in American history. Since the enactment of Title IX, women now outnumber men in U.S. colleges and graduate schools. Today, Guerriero is a professor of education and politics at Columbia University’s Teachers College. In a recent conversation about the legacy of Title IX, she surprised me by pointing out that some people forget that Title IX is not about giving girls and women more opportunities but about gender equity. She expressed a seldom-heard worry that focusing on girls overlooks the fact that boys, particularly boys of color, are falling behind academically. “Real equity is not about girls but about equity, all day, every day, [for] both genders,” she said. Guerriero is an effortless blend of jock and scholargeek. At Wagner she was captain of the softball team, student government vice president, editor of the school newspaper, president of the honor society and homecoming queen. Guerriero’s supporters call her a breath of fresh air in an atmosphere of stale city politics dominated by professional officeholders and serial candidates. Rev. Carl Washington, a leading Harlem pastor,
describes her as “very, very genuine with a freshness that is missing in professional politicians.” A Queens political operative who requested not to be named described Guerriero as having a “frightening ability to connect with working class voters,” a knack Guerriero attributes to growing up in a family of public servants— cops, firefighters and teachers. As the oldest of Dorothy and Ray Guerriero’s six children, Cathy found that leadership came naturally. She recounts that her dad put a handwritten sign in the family bathroom when she was 10 years old that read: “Know Who You Are.” The sign is still there 32 years later, and the message continues to resonate within her. In addition to Rev. Washington, Guerriero also counts Revs. Que English, Johnny Ray Youngblood, Calvin Rice and Jerry West as supporters in the black community. Rev. Rice says she earned his support because of her faithbased background and willingness to visit every neighborhood and every group. Rice pointed out that Guerriero’s experience in sports makes her an adroit unifying force, because on the court and on the field, skin color is not a factor. “There’s only one team, and you learn respect for the other players as a sportswoman,” he said. Whether it’s standing on the mound in the PSAL championship game with the bases loaded, no outs, and having to throw strikes, or standing at the foul line with two seconds left in Madison Square Garden in the city playoffs and the whole season resting in her hands, Guerriero seem capable of delivering in the clutch. New York City could use a blue collar hero in the role of public advocate. Cathy Guerriero looks to fit the bill.
Former Assemblyman Michael Benjamin (@SquarePeg_ Dem on Twitter) represented the Bronx for eight years.
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www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 22, 2013
# 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
As we celebrated our nation’s 237th birthday, Lady Liberty reopened to the public—a win for all New Yorkers. And what’s more patriotic than talking politics and judging the candidates and elected officials? So without further ado, here are your winners and losers.
Go to cityandstateny.com each week to vote.
Week of July 1, 2013
Week of July 8, 2013
WINNERS Eric Schneiderman 42% Stuart Appelbaum 20% David Petraeus 18% Adriano Espaillat 18% Bill Reilich 2%
Stuart Appelbaum: Living wage lawsuit tossed Adriano Espaillat: Coveted endorsement Bill Reilich: $100K salary heading Monroe County GOP
The average adjunct professor at CUNY makes less than $3,000 per course. When it was announced that former Gen. Petraeus would join CUNY as a visiting professor this summer, it came out he would be making that same amount every two hours. The perennially cash-strapped university was set to pay him a whopping $150,000 for teaching a single seminar—though the cost would have been covered by private donations. Ultimately outrage over the agreement led Petraeus to agree to instead take $1, but that was after C&S made Petraeus a winner for scoring a six-figure teaching gig.
Eliot Spitzer 46% YOUR CHOICE Eric Schneiderman: The biggest surprise when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his Moreland Commission to investigate corruption in the state Legislature was the prominent role that Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was given. The governor’s executive order creating the commission gives Schneiderman broad authority to probe corruption and instructs the AG to deputize the 25 Moreland commissioners as deputy attorney generals. If New York is going to purge public corruption, it’s going to require all hands on deck.
Political journalists 25% Bill Nojay 11% Joe Lhota 11% Ed Cox 7% Ed Cox: Weiner-Spitzer fodder for more attacks Joe Lhota: Solid debate performance Bill Nojay: Remaking state GOP through song
Political journalists: “And He rained down on them manna to eat and gave them the grain of heaven” (Psalm 78:24). Yes, it has been that dramatic for the state’s political journalists, who found themselves covering not one but two sex-scandal redemption tours this cycle. Few thought the former governor would make his return to politics, but Eliot Spitzer surprised practically everybody by jumping into the race. And you know what that means. A media circus larger than the Ringling Brothers’ elephant walk. PRESS
YOUR CHOICE Eliot Spitzer: He’s baaaack! Just when Scott Stringer thought that it was safe to measure the drapes in the comptroller’s office, the Luv Guv threw the New York City political world into chaos once again by relaunching his political career. Before the surprising resurgence of Anthony Weiner, the thought of Spitzer making a comeback bordered on the comical. But if recent polling is accurate, Spitzer could very well be he who has the last laugh.
LOSERS Timothy Dolan 34%
Scott Stringer 52%
Bill Thompson 32%
Anthony Weiner 20%
Adolfo Carrión 14% Mercedes Narcisse 11% Peter Ajemian 9% Peter Ajemian: Orthopedist at center of LIRR fraud Adolfo Carrión: In middle of Independence Party spat Mercedes Narcisse: Sampson steered $10K to her nonprofit am ................ pm ................ am ................ pm ................
BAD CITYTIME-ING Bill Thompson: The mayoral candidate fell victim to some solid muckraking when the scandal over CityTime—which started under his watch as city comptroller—resurfaced. A report revealed that Thompson’s top lieutenants ignored the warning signs and did not conduct a single audit of CityTime. To his credit, Thompson didn’t retreat from the scandal, but it’s never good to have your leadership ability called into question in the middle of a campaign. 2.30 pm
26 JULY 22, 2013 | www.cityandstateny.com
YOUR CHOICE Timothy Dolan: The popular New York cardinal took a blow when it came out that as the archbishop of Milwaukee he sought to move some $57 million off the archdiocese’s books to shield it from judgments against pedophile priests. Dolan, a rumored contender for pope earlier this year, had called the accusation of such a move “malarkey,” but newly released court documents demonstrate that he had sought approval from the Vatican to make the transfer.
Bill de Blasio 14% Sean Eldridge 12% Robert Johnson 2% Bill de Blasio: Stunt arrest over LICH Sean Eldridge: Carpetbagger Robert Johnson: Broke campaign rules
SCANDAL OVERLOAD Anthony Weiner: Is New York City big enough for two “morally flexible” pols? We won’t know the answer until the primary, but some think Eliot Spitzer’s entry into the comptroller’s race hurts Weiner’s chances at becoming mayor, in part because voters might not have the stomach to have two recently disgraced politicians running the city. That could give Spitzer an edge, given his established policy credentials and weaker competition, while Weiner has to battle a more crowded field.
YOUR CHOICE: Scott Stringer: Scott Stringer must have been on cloud nine. He had a cakewalk in the city comptroller’s race, with little effort needed to sail into office. Then he woke up staring at a steamroller in his face. And he’s apparently been stuck in the first stage of grief: denial. His campaign admitted it wasn’t prepared for Spitzer. Over the days following the announcement, Stringer has made few public appearances and his only “attack” on Spitzer was in a fundraising email.
B AC K & F O R T H
A Q&A WITH CAMPBELL BROWN
Until she left CNN in May 2010, Campbell Brown was one of the most prominent television news reporters in America. Formerly the host of her eponymous prime-time show Campbell Brown, Brown joined CNN after having been White House correspondent for NBC News, the co-anchor of Weekend Today and the primary substitute for Brian Williams on NBC Nightly News. These days the Emmy award winner is no longer a journalist, instead concentrating her investigative skills on probing education issues in New York City as the co-founder of the Parents’ Transparency Project, a nonpartisan group that recently ran a television ad attacking four of the Democratic candidates for mayor. City & State Editor Morgan Pehme spoke with Brown about her organization, Eliot Spitzer, Bill O’Reilly and how she went from being an anchor to an education advocate. The following is an edited transcript.
City & State: What is the Parents’ Transparency Project? Campbell Brown: This is an organization that was founded by me and several other people very recently to try to shine a spotlight on a number of issues around education here in New York City. We are focused initially on one issue that came to my attention over a year ago. I am a mother of two small children and have a long background in journalism—I was at NBC News for 11 years and then CNN, so 15 years. I spend more time with my kids now, and I have started writing a lot of opinion [pieces] on subjects that were interesting to me, or things that I cared about. I was reading in the local papers about this issue here in New York about teachers who had, in some cases, done really horrible things related to sexual misconduct with children, who still had their jobs, who couldn’t be fired because of the way the system was set up— and I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked by it. I thought, “This can’t be right,” and I started looking into it. I’ve written some and I’ve spoken about it quite a bit since and have been struck by the fact that it’s been over a year [and] very little has happened to even put this issue in the spotlight, much less change the law [or] renegotiate the teachers’ contract to try to address the problem that makes this allowable … so that was the impetus for putting this group together, to try to inform people and let them know what’s going on. C&S: This initiative seems like a pretty abrupt change of career for you. How was it that you segued from being a journalist to being an education advocate? CB: It’s been … a natural progression. I loved being a journalist, but I think after I had children I felt like there were so many issues that needed to be addressed, and having children takes their importance to a new level. I didn’t feel like talking about it was enough, and I wanted to advocate for policies that I thought could change things and make things better. C&S: Does your organization advocate for any specific approach to moving forward in education? Are you particularly allied, for instance, with the charter school movement? I know that you are on the board of the Success Academy. CB: Personally, I am very supportive of charter schools, but our organization isn’t focused on that. I think over the long term we are going to be looking at ways to broaden our focus, but it will be primarily about trying to educate and inform parents about all aspects of our educational system. I think there’s a lot people don’t know. It’s very bureaucratic, it’s very complicated, the contract that sort of defines what happens in the classrooms, how teachers behave, how they’re paid, how everything works at DoE [Department of Education]. [It] is a really complex web
C&S: When you took your leave from CNN you issued an unusually candid statement about your reasons for doing so. You cited your low ratings and wrote that you didn’t want to practice the same brand of journalism as your competitors Bill O’Reilly and Keith Olbermann. Can you explain what you meant? CB: The business changed so much for me from when I started. I was hired in my first network job by Tim Russert, who was my mentor in Washington, D.C., when I covered the White House. The business has evolved over the years. It’s a very different world from how it was when Tim Russert was still alive and hosting Meet the Press. The cable news universe where nightly what dominated my time slot was Nancy Grace, Keith Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly screaming back and forth at each other … I was being asked to take part in that screaming match, and that’s not who I was, or who I felt I could be. What I care about, what I’ve always cared about, was honesty and truth … so for me to come up with some silly PR excuse for why I was leaving would have just been wrong. I couldn’t have done it. C&S: A few months after you left CNN your time slot was filled by Parker Spitzer. What was your opinion of Eliot Spitzer as a journalist and a host? CB: I don’t think I have ever watched that show. I, honest to God, never turned it on. I was so enthralled with my freedom from that world that I took some time off right after I left to just hang out with my kids and not watch cable news, and I think he was off the air by the time I turned the TV on. C&S: Do you think that you will ever go back to being a journalist? CB: I don’t know. I feel advocacy is much more where I want to be focused right now. I care a lot about education and I care a lot about this city, and so I feel like I can make a much greater contribution being engaged on these issues right now than yapping on a talk show. [Laughs] I am grateful for the experiences I had as a journalist, because I have a certain skill set now that allows me to sort through all the fog and the different arguments that are out there, and try to get at what really is true and hopefully bring that to light for people who … often get lost in the debate listening to both sides trying to make an argument. But this isn’t about trying to make an argument. This is about trying to bring facts to light so that we can hopefully all work together and find a way out of this situation. I am sure people will try to paint us as anti-union or anti–DoE in certain cases depending on whoever we’re going after on a given issue, because we intend to hold everybody accountable. My goal is ultimately to have people understand these issues well enough that they demand a response, and that means the UFT being a real partner, with a mayoral candidate—whoever the next mayor may be—who is willing to do what it takes, [to] make the hard decisions that they’re going to have to make politically to solve these problems. We can’t have what we’re seeing from these four mayoral candidates who’ve refused to address this—[Bill] de Blasio, [Bill] Thompson, [Anthony] Weiner and [John] Liu—who are just dodging it because they’re so afraid of what their special interest that they seem to care more about is going to say than what it means for children. That’s not acceptable. If you’re going to vote for one of these guys, then you need to know who they are and where they stand, and that’s what we intend to do: to bring that to light as much as we can. To watch this video interview in its entirety, including Brown’s take on which candidate would make the best mayor, go to www.cityandstateny.com.
www.cityandstateny.com | JULY 22, 2013
(Photo by Guillaume Federighi)
JUST THE FACTS
that needs to be unraveled for parents who have an interest in [it]. When you point out these problems people are surprised; they don’t know about [them, so] the more we can do to just bring this stuff to light, I think is going to be very valuable … as part of the conversation.
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7/17/13 3:31 PM
City & State's cover story highlight Mayor Bloomberg's outgoing Deputies, and who incoming administrations might look to replace them with....
Published on Jul 19, 2013
City & State's cover story highlight Mayor Bloomberg's outgoing Deputies, and who incoming administrations might look to replace them with....