April 18, 2016
CSA Salutes City & State at 50 Over Fifty, a tribute to distinguished public servants in government, politics, labor and business who have committed to making New York City a better place.
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EDITOR’S NOTE / Contents
Jon Lentz Senior Editor
The population of Iowa is 3.12 million. New Hampshire has 1.33 million residents. Combined, the two states have roughly half as many inhabitants as New York City, or a quarter of the population of New York state as a whole. Iowa and New Hampshire make up for their small size every four years, playing outsized roles as the first two states to hold primaries or caucuses in the presidential race. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz won Iowa’s Republican caucuses in February after barnstorming across the state, and Donald Trump struck back in New Hampshire. Democrat Hillary Clinton eked out a narrow Iowa victory, while U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders beat her in the New Hampshire primary. More than two months and several dozen states later, the race is still unsettled. Now, with New York’s primary coming up on April 19, Clinton, Sanders, Trump, Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are crisscrossing the state, and not just to woo big-pocket donors. This year, the major candidates are here to win votes – and for one cycle, at least, New Yorkers will have a voice that matches the state’s size.
PRIMARY PREVIEW Don’t miss Senior Editor Jon Lentz’s essential April election guide.
50 OVER 50 City & State honors 50 of the most distinguished stars in New York City government, politics, labor and business.
BEYOND THE BILLION In the conclusion of his threepart series, reporter Justin Sondel examines whether Buffalo Billion can fulfill its promise to bring prosperity to all Western New Yorkers.
NEW YORK SLANT James Freedland suggests the perceived lack of excitement around Hillary Clinton is just “a white thing,” while Bruce Gyory highlights the increasing influence of Asian voters in New York City.
BACK & FORTH Pulitzer Prize-winning Buffalo News editorial cartoonist Adam Zyglis discusses disparities in Buffalo.
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On the Cover
April 18, 2016
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Shatter the stereotypes about aging. AARP New York congratulates all of the 50 Over 50 honorees. Your dedicated service and leadership is proof that age isnâ€™t an impediment to doing great things. We invite you to join other innovators as we work to create a world where living longer means living better.
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City & State honored its 2016 class of Above & Beyond winners with a gala at Pier A in Manhattan. The annual awards celebrate 25 extraordinary women in the business, public service, nonprofit, organized labor and media fields. The event was emceed by U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney and featured remarks from Counsel to the Mayor Maya Wiley and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Fordham University’s Associate Vice President for Government Relations and Urban Affairs Lesley Massiah-Arthur asked that the Above & Beyond Chairperson Award donation of $2,500 be made to the Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center.
Top row: NYSNA’s Jill Furillo; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Nisha Agarwal (left); Deputy Comptroller for Public Affairs Camille Joseph. Center row: NY1’s Cheryl Wills; Fordham University’s Lesley Massiah-Arthur; DC37’s Erica Vargas. Bottom row: Rep. Carolyn Maloney; Small Business Services Commissioner Gregg Bishop and Counsel to the Mayor Maya Wiley.
More CUNY Value More than 90% of CUNY baccalaureate graduates are employed or pursuing advanced higher education three years after graduation.
More than 80% of all CUNY graduates live or work in New York State 10 years after graduation. More Student Award Winners than ever: Since 2011, 79 Student Fulbright
Award Winners, 91 NSF Fellowships, 12 Goldwater, 6 Soros, 3 Truman Scholarships – and a Pulitzer Prize for poetry.
More Faculty Award Winners than ever: Since 2011, 51 faculty Fulbrights,
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More than 8 out of 10 CUNY college students graduate free of federal loan debt.
very year, hundreds of thousands of students choose The City University of New York for a multitude of reasons that can be summed up as one: opportunity. Providing a quality, accessible education regardless of background or means has been CUNY’s mission since 1847. The University’s unwavering commitment to that principle is a source of enormous pride. CUNY colleges offer a seemingly infinite array of academic programs taught by award-winning faculty, as well as the arts, sports, internships, scholarships and community service opportunities. The powerful combination of quality academics, remarkable affordability, financial support and the convenience of 24 modern campuses spanning the five boroughs of New York – the most exciting city in the world – makes CUNY a singular value in higher education today. The wise choice for smart students: That’s the CUNY Value.
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City & State’s essential presidential primary election guide By JON LENTZ
In most presidential election cycles, the New York primary is a humdrum affair. Republicans and Democrats crown their nominees before New Yorkers get to vote, and local candidates are rarely on the ballot. This year, it’s different. Donald Trump is still racing to lock up the GOP nod, while his party is bracing for a possible contested convention. Hillary Clinton is the Democratic frontrunner, but Sen. Bernie Sanders is not giving up without a fight. On April 19, New York primary voters will actually have a say in both parties’ presidential picks – in a field packed with current and former New Yorkers. Even on the state level, the April election could prove to be pivotal: Control of the state Senate is in play, depending on the outcome of the contest to fill the Long Island seat vacated by disgraced former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Here’s your essential guide to this month’s Election Day – and a sneak peek at a few fall races.
THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE THE REPUBLICANS
TOTAL DELEGATES NEEDED TO CLINCH THE NOMINATION
TRUMP 743 delegates
DELEGATES AT STAKE IN NEW YORK
(fourth most in the country)
20% JOHN KASICH
NEW YORK POLLING RESULTS (Quinnipiac University Poll, April 12)
CRUZ 545 delegates
19% TED CRUZ
KASICH 143 delegates
How they’re distributed: Delegates are awarded proportionally, but candidates must get 20 percent to be eligible to win delegates. Additionally, a candidate can hit a winner-take-all threshold by earning a majority of the votes in a congressional district or statewide.
DELEGATE COUNT (as of April 6)
NEW YORK POLLING RESULTS (Quinnipiac, April 12)
TOTAL DELEGATES NEEDED TO CLINCH THE NOMINATION
40% BERNIE SANDERS
CLINTON 1,756 delegates (1,287 delegates and 469 superdelegates)
DELEGATES AT STAKE IN NEW YORK
(second most in the country)
SANDERS 1,068 delegates (1,037 delegates and 31 superdelegates)
How they’re distributed: Pledged delegates are awarded proportionally and are based on primary results. Superdelegates can support any candidate.
THE STATE SENATE The state Senate is the Republicans’ only bastion of power on a statewide level, and its hold is tenuous. Democrats occupy every statewide office – governor, attorney general, comptroller – and have a 2-to-1 majority in the state Assembly. But Republicans have ensured their political relevance by holding the Senate for decades, apart from a two-year hiatus starting in 2009. The GOP currently has 31 seats, one short of an outright majority in the 63-seat chamber, and its control hinges on the continued loyalty of state Sen. Simcha Felder, a Brooklyn Democrat caucusing with Republicans, and a power-sharing coalition with state Sen. Jeff Klein’s five-member Independent Democratic Conference.
31 REPUBLICANS 5 IDC 1 VACANCY 25 DEMOCRATS
STATE SENATE DISTRICT 9 One state Senate seat opened last year when Skelos was ousted upon his conviction on corruption charges. If a Democrat fills the Nassau County district in the upcoming special election, the party will steal the majority – at least numerically. If a Republican wins, they’ll stay in control – at least until the fall elections. The Republican candidate, Chris McGrath, a personal injury attorney, is a political newcomer. That’s not surprising, given Democrats’ attempts to capitalize on Skelos’ conviction. Democrats found success with the strategy in the recent Nassau County district attorney race. McGrath’s Democratic rival, Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky, was elected to the state Legislature in 2014. Previously he served as a federal prosecutor, helping take down former state Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada and other elected officials. Republicans, meanwhile, have sought to link Senate Democrats – and their candidates – to liberal New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who is a divisive figure upstate.
STATE SENATE DISTRICT 9 45%
Total campaign funds on hand: $282,162.91 Total spent: $860,198.70 Polling results (Siena College poll, March 15): 45% Registered Republicans: 75,594
Total campaign funds on hand: $296,132.62 Total spent: $850,502.06 Polling results (Siena, March 15): 47% Registered Democrats: 94,646
THE OTHER RACES Democrat Jaime Williams is a lock to win the 59th Assembly District in Brooklyn. Williams is chief of staff to state Sen. Roxanne Persaud, who previously held the Assembly seat. On Staten Island’s South Shore, lawyer Ronald Castorina Jr. is running unopposed and will replace fellow Republican Joe Borelli, who left the Assembly when he was elected to the New York City Council. The only other contest is also the result of a corruption conviction – in this case, of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. In the race for the lower Manhattan Assembly seat, Alice Cancel won the backing of local Democrats, but she must beat Yuh-Line Niou, the former chief of staff to Assemblyman Ron Kim who has the Working Families Party line and some establishment and union support, as well as Republican Lester Chang.
THIS FALL Regardless of who wins the Skelos seat, the battle for the state Senate will rage on into the fall. The common wisdom is that Democrats will perform well, given that presidential races boost turnout, especially among younger and minority voters. In Skelos’ district and beyond, party officials are already preparing to square off in a number of close contests in November. Here’s an early preview of which races to watch.
District 7: With Republican state Sen. Jack Martins running for Congress, Democrats are eyeing a pickup opportunity in a Long Island district where they have a registration advantage. JACK MARTINS
District 9: Whoever wins, there’s always a chance of a Kaminsky-McGrath rematch in Nassau County in the fall.
District 39: Republican state Sen. William Larkin has already faced repeated attacks from Democrats, who hope the Hudson Valley lawmaker, who is in his late 80s, decides to retire. WILLIAM LARKIN
District 46: In an Albany-area district tailormade for him, GOP businessman George Amedore lost narrowly in 2012 to Cecilia Tkaczyk but won a 2014 rematch. Labor advocate and Palate Town Supervisor Sara Niccoli started fundraising early as Democrats try to retake the seat. District 60: Democratic state Sen. Marc Panepinto will not run for re-election in his Buffalo-area district amid rumors of staff problems and underage drinking at his home. He won a four-way race in 2014 with a third of the vote, and third-party bids could complicate the outcome again this year.
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Editor’s note: As Buffalo shows signs of an economic resurgence after years of decline, there are questions about whether the people who most need a hand up will benefit. This is the conclusion of a three-part series exploring the impact of the Buffalo Billion and other state investments aimed at revitalizing Western New York.
WILL THE BUFFALO BILLION BRING PROSPERITY TO ALL WESTERN NEW YORKERS? Story by JUSTIN SONDEL Photos by BRENDAN BANNON
SITTING IN HIS mother’s living room, Tuan Jones gesticulates, wide eyed, as he talks about the buildings that have gone up and the palpable excitement in downtown Buffalo. Jones has cherished his time with family and friends since returning to his hometown after spending 14 years in the Navy, enjoying some of what the “New Buffalo” has to offer. When at a concert or festival on the shores of the Buffalo River, he feels the
renewed pride and optimism that officials have been talking up and newspapers have been writing about in recent years. “They’re down there and they’re fixing downtown Buffalo,” Jones said in the living room, with pictures of family members on the end tables and his nephew’s and niece’s toys neatly organized along the wall. “It’s way better than it’s ever done when I was a kid. Whatever the Buffalo Billionaires are doing, they’re doing it right.”
He loves to spend time in the now-bustling Inner Harbor, taking in a show or strolling along the boardwalk with his girlfriend, Rebekah, a childhood sweetheart he reconnected with on Facebook before returning home. Sometimes they walk up through the naval park, where a fleet of decommissioned ships and submarines float, as a warm breeze rolls in off Lake Erie. But for Jones, 42, the longawaited homecoming may not last.
As summer approaches, so does his graduation from a yearlong training program that will qualify him for machining gigs that start at $20 an hour, and higher in some cases. Shops all over the city are looking for talent as an aging workforce is retiring. Still, his first few years back have kept his expectations in check. Before entering the training program, Jones, who works a graveyard shift at a mail sorting center in addition to his eight-
hour training sessions, had a tough time despite all the talk of opportunity surrounding the city’s recent economic resurgence. Since returning to Buffalo, Jones, who worked as an air conditioning and refrigeration specialist in the Navy, has been turned away from job opportunities time and again, at one point settling for a low-paying job in collections. “I bust my ass,” Jones said. “I just want the opportunity to get a great job.” He has been speaking with a Navy friend who is considering a new program that would allow longtime service members to reenlist, possibly as officers. If a good opportunity doesn’t come soon, he may have to return to Florida, where he has connections with the Navy and contractors. But if a motivated veteran with hands-on experience can’t find decent work in the “New Buffalo,” how well can less qualified residents, with more challenges, do in the state-fueled rebound? Jones has heard what Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his local allies have promised, but those words mean little to him. He’s a man who works with his hands. In the shop, when he tapers or puts threads on pipe, he can remove the finished piece from the machine and measure it to see whether the work is right or wrong. As he prepares to look for a job, armed with a machining certificate, he’ll have to see if he comes back with something he can grasp. “I don’t hold promises,” Jones said. “If I hold promises and try to hold somebody to their word I’m going to be dead because I’m holding my breath for this person.”
ALL IN On a warm January day, shadows stretch across Northland Avenue, cast by the hulking, boxy factories that once filled the air with the tinny staccato of churning industry. Nearby streets are lined with homes, some more worse for the wear than others, interrupted
occasionally by a vacant lot or two. And amid of all this is the future home of the Workforce Development Center, set to open in 2017, where state and city officials hope to solve two problems at once: providing employers in expanding markets with workers and helping people desperate for steady work find careers. In the former home of Niagara Machine & Tool Works and Clearing Niagara factory, where massive metal pressing machines were once built, 100,000 square feet will be refurbished into classrooms and workshops where people will be trained, initially in new energy technologies and advanced manufacturing, with the possibility of other programs being added later. This is where Cuomo and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, in trying to spread the economic benefits to everyone in the city, have pushed most their chips to the center of the table, devoting nearly $50 million to build up a training and manufacturing hub. But they and other leaders have faced mounting scrutiny from advocates who are pressing the governor and his allies to follow through with their oft-repeated pledges that the the economically disadvantaged in the city, and not just developers, will benefit from the unprecedented state investment in the region, and that long-neglected neighborhoods will be built up along with the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and Inner Harbor. And so it is here that the state, through the Empire State Development Corporation and the New York Power Authority, will work with the city to acquire surrounding land to create an employment and job training hive, with a special focus on recruiting people of color, those in poverty and the long-term unemployed. On the surrounding properties, some recently purchased by the city, sit factory buildings, abandoned and in varying states of disrepair. Some will be demolished. Others will need to be remediated. All of this, officials hope, will lead to fruitful
relationships with manufacturers looking to expand. Chris Schoepflin, Empire State Development’s Western New York president, said that by attracting the kind of jobs the state will be training for to an area next to the training center, officials will create an environment where each moving part fits with the others – much like they are already doing with research, clinics and schools on the city’s medical campus. “It’s not just about preparing a workforce there,” Schoepflin said. “It’s about creating a cluster of opportunities to work, employment opportunities, in that direct neighborhood.” This system also aims to address obstacles to finding jobs or getting training by bringing in services like child care and health clinics, to be provided at little to no cost. “We actually believe that we’re creating the most comprehensive, progressive, inclusive and nimble training centers, not only in the state but perhaps in the East Coast, perhaps in the country,” Schoepflin said. “We don’t have a lot of terrific models that are as broad and as comprehensive as what the governor has envisioned here.” Schoepflin said other approaches, like offering training in high school, will continue, and will be linked to the training center when it makes sense. And while it is a steep climb after a prolonged
legacy of economic exclusion, state officials believe that their plan will go a long way toward addressing the problems. “To solve a long-standing and complicated problem, you have to get back into high school, I would submit, maybe the end of middle school,” Schoepflin said. “But I think that every initiative and partnership we can form as we work to implement the governor’s broader vision will each enhance what we’re doing here as a region.”
ATTITUDES & ACTION Assemblywoman Crystal PeoplesStokes grew up on Buffalo’s East Side. Her district includes the Workforce Development Center and many neighborhoods that have suffered most under the decades of disinvestment brought on by Buffalo’s economic downturn. She knows the problems are complex and will require a multifaceted solution. The Buffalo Billion initiative on its own, she said, is simply not enough to address the underlying economic and racial injustice that has long been a part of the city’s DNA. While the problems do need to be confronted, tying the money in the Buffalo Billion initiative to long-standing issues of institutional racism doesn’t always make sense, she said. Employers will eliminate resumes from the candidate pool based on names or
Tuan Jones returned home to Buffalo after serving 14 years in the Navy.
An empty lot where a house once stood. Mayor Byron Brown’s administration has razed more than 5,000 vacant buildings.
“ I B U S T M Y AS S . I J U S T WAN T T H E O PPO R T U NIT Y TO G E T A G R E AT JO B .” - Tuan Jones ZIP codes, regardless of how much money is put toward training. “They’re looking for everything but what’s the best person for that job,” Peoples-Stokes said. “That’s something that I personally can’t change. The Buffalo Billion can’t change that, either.” Banks, insurance companies and the education system do less for minority and poor neighborhoods, despite anti-discrimination laws. For the neighborhoods in her district to emerge from the decades-long cloud of unemployment and poverty, the community as a whole will need to change attitudes toward race and class, a far more elusive task. The change has to be brought on by convincing business leaders, political leaders and residents that everyone will be better off if those neighborhoods have an equal chance at success, she said, as when everyone is participating in an economy the strength of the
whole is greater. “The Buffalo Billion can’t change anybody’s moral perspective,” Peoples-Stokes said. “What changes people’s moral perspective is education.” To that end, the recently passed state budget allocates $2.75 million to replicate an anti-poverty initiative already underway in Rochester, which aims to bring community leaders and business leaders to work together to reduce poverty in the city by 50 percent in the next 15 years. But even as the region as a whole has seen slow but steady growth, Buffalo will be in the same situation 10 years down the road without that change in attitudes toward race and class, PeoplesStokes said. “It’s not going to help us move forward if we don’t bring everybody,” she said. Peoples-Stokes isn’t the only state legislator who believes drastic changes are needed if the
results are to be different. Assemblyman Sean Ryan has been pushing a plan of his own to help link people in need with available jobs. With the backing of city clergy leaders, Ryan is pushing to form a state-sponsored employment agency, which he would call HIRE, modeled on for-profit companies, with an outreach arm concentrated in ZIP codes with the highest poverty rates. “We found that unless the hiring for these jobs, like SolarCity, is targeted in some strategic manner, that the people who live in these ZIP codes will not end up working at SolarCity,” Ryan said. The assemblyman hopes to secure $5 million for a three-year pilot to get the center up and running. By then, the state would be able to show companies results that would have them flocking to the program, he said. To Ryan, there has been talk and panels and task forces on these issues for decades. It’s time, he said, to try something new. “A lot of the old methods we’ve tried over the last 15 to 20 years haven’t moved the needle,” Ryan said. “So I think it’s time for a look at these things.”
When Cuomo visited Buffalo for a victory lap State of the State address in 2015, he told the audience that Western New York’s renaissance, just three years after he announced his commitment of a billion dollars for the region, was an “economic success story.” “This has been an economic development turnaround for the books,” Cuomo said. When he visited the Queen City again this March to celebrate a construction milestone for the University at Buffalo’s medical school, he claimed victory. While five years ago the city’s economic health was fodder for latenight TV hosts, Cuomo told the audience of political, business and education leaders, it is now the envy of upstate officials, who are working with his office to emulate Western New York’s success. “The congratulations goes to you, because you did it,” Cuomo said. “And you did it the way success always happens, by putting aside differences and coming together and working together for a common goal with a lot of assets and a lot of talent and a lot of good people that want to make a difference.” Cuomo’s regional allies – Brown, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster – have reinforced that narrative, time and again using words like “resurgence” and “renaissance” to describe the changes to Western New York. While there is evidence to support that story – a boost in downtown housing, a construction boom, well-educated young professionals moving to the area for jobs – some troubling signs are coming to the surface. The region has seen steady job growth, and analysts expect the trend to continue, but revised numbers showed the first contraction in six years in December and a much less robust jobs picture than originally reported by the state Department
of Labor. Even before the revisions, Buffalo-Niagara was not keeping pace with the rest of country. SolarCity, the tenant at Riverbend, the state’s main project in the Buffalo Billion initiative, has seen drastic drops in its stock price related to missed targets and a change in strategy reported to investors the last two quarters. While some analysts remain cautiously optimistic about the company’s long-term prospects, the developments, along with late payments to the contractors at the site and reports of an ethics investigation into the bidding of the project, raised questions about whether Cuomo’s “game changer” project is in trouble. Meanwhile, advocacy groups, clergy and organized labor have called on Cuomo and other leaders to ensure that the newfound prosperity is not hoarded by those already at the top. Cuomo identified reducing poverty and economic disparities as a reason for investing so much money in Buffalo. While the city and state have made efforts to create new job training programs and bolster existing programs, little movement has been realized in the numbers. Poverty remains high, especially for people of color, in a deeply segregated city. No one expected problems in the making for more than 50 years to change overnight, but, despite the rhetoric, it’s not clear that the struggle to turn around the city is over. Frederick Floss, a professor of economics at Buffalo State College and a former fellow at the Fiscal Policy Institute, is high on the way things are going in Buffalo. He said that what’s happening in Western New York now looks similar to what was happening in the late 1990s in Albany, where the SUNY Polytechnic Institute ushered in a transformation. “Right now we’ve got this B-12 shot and we’re ready to run,” Floss said. “If this is a marathon, we want to make sure we can finish, which means you’ve got to do the
right things.” Floss said that with state funding secured for waterfront projects and the remediation of brownfields, the right environment had been cultivated over the years for the region to succeed. The Buffalo Billion was just the catalyst that set the wheels in motion on a more vigorous economic comeback. “I think a lot of people essentially didn’t see the spade work that was being done that allowed it to look like it’s all happening right now,” Floss said. In a city that has suffered through long periods of decline, it can seem unreal to have the backing of a governor who has brought jobs and the promise of many more. With new buildings going up instead of being knocked down, Western New York seems a world away from where is was a decade ago. Now the challenge, Floss said, will be ensuring that, as Cuomo moves on to try to recreate his Buffalo model in other cities, Western New York remains a focus for the administration. “We need to make sure that the governor stays committed to the project in Buffalo,” Floss said. “I
think it’s important that he moved on to Rochester and Syracuse and Binghamton, because they obviously needed help.” Without continued support, the gains can be undone in short order, he added. “It’s not to say that they shouldn’t succeed,” he said, “but it does mean that the eye is off of Buffalo a little bit and that we have to make sure that we’re still pushing.”
JOB QUALITY Dick Lipsitz, the head of the American Labor Federation in Western New York, an AFL-CIO associated umbrella group, sees quality employment as the best way to fix the long-standing racial and social inequities that have persisted in Buffalo and across the nation. His organization, which represents more than 100,000 union members throughout the region, has for months been working on different strategies, like targeted hiring requirements from poorer neighborhoods for any companies receiving public benefits. He is pushing for similar
practices at the Erie County Industrial Development Agency, where he is chairman of the policy committee. The fact that jobs are returning is undeniably positive. But Lipsitz’ group and others now must do what they can to make sure those jobs are equitably distributed and that the people getting in on the bottom floor, whether at SolarCity or a new hotel going up near the medical campus, make enough money to live, he said. “We should use our strength to make sure everyone benefits from it as much as we can,” Lipsitz said. And so ALF’s push has been based on deploying a variety of strategies in concert with a wide base of groups with similar goals. His organization helped fund a study detailing racial disparities in unemployment and pay. It signed on to a group backing the NY Renews green jobs and economic justice legislation being pushed in the state Legislature this session, and strongly supported Cuomo’s recently passed minimum wage hike. Lipsitz’ organization is always working to grow union membership as well, as it is one
SolarCity’s recent woes have raised questions about whether Cuomo’s “game changer” project is in trouble.
Wind turbines on a portion of the former Bethlehem Steel plant site capture energy from winds off of Lake Erie. way to make sure people are being paid well, he said, though organized labor has been hard hit, too. If unions are able to recruit more members as job numbers rise, particularly people of color, the prospects of reducing the gaps in racial disparities become much better, he said. “Unionized jobs, for comparable work, make 35, 40 percent more than non-union,” he said. “We’re all about making sure those jobs are unionized because it’s a way of making sure there’s higher wages for everybody.” However, Lipsitz cautioned that everyone should be mindful of how different things are. Having been involved in organized labor in the city for decades, Lipsitz has had a front-row seat to the decline. “We can talk all we want about wringing our hands, ‘It’s not good enough,’” Lipsitz said. “But tell me what was good about what was going on before. There was nothing. Buffalo was a dying city.”
COMING HOME Sitting in the home where she has lived for the more than 50 years, Christine Jones beams with pride as she talks about her son. Tuan, her firstborn, sits across the living room attempting not to blush as she talks about his work
ethic, his smarts, his baby face. “I’m just so happy to have him home,” Christine says. Now she and her son are left wondering whether he will be able to stay. With his graduation from a manufacturing training program just weeks away, Tuan wants badly to remain in Buffalo. If he can’t find a good paying job after devoting a year to retraining, however, he might be better off going somewhere where he will earn enough to send money back home. That might help him fix up his mother’s house. Since coming back, Jones has helped his mom by painting interior rooms and making electrical repairs. But the century-old home where Christine has lived since she was a teenager is showing its age. It needs a new roof, and the outside paint is due for a new coat. Other houses in the neighborhood are in worse shape, or gone altogether. One neighbor has a massive side lot where houses once stood. Stately brick homes are abutted by houses with plywood over the entrances. On an early spring day, McDonald’s wrappers and Tim Horton’s coffee cups were strewn about front yards. Behind the house across the street, a garage has collapsed in on itself and lies a pile of debris. While Jones is earning some
money at his night job, it’s not enough to pay for major repairs. And between the training and work, he doesn’t have time to do the repairs himself, even if he could afford the materials. “It’s just not enough,” he said. But the neighborhood where
Christine has spent most of her life, where her son grew up and is again living, is changing. In some ways it’s improving. Between the Jones’ front door and the corner on Main Street, a light pole is surrounded by stuffed animals – a white rabbit, a purple teddy bear, a brown monkey – affixed with plastic wrap and packing tape. A young man was killed there about two years ago, but that was the last time someone had been murdered near their house, Tuan said. There has recently been a greater police presence, he said, mostly transit cops who patrol a nearby train station, and the violence is down. Now, more and more people are leaving the neighborhood as demand for housing has stretched north from the nearby medical campus, with speculators offering buyouts. Christine’s block, it seems, is heading in a different direction. It remains uncertain whether it will continue to include her family. “It’s sure not like it used to be,” she said.
“THE BUFFALO BILLION CAN’T CHANGE ANYBODY’S MORAL PERSPECTIVE . WHAT CHANGES PEOPLE’S MORAL PERSPECTIVE IS EDUCATION.” - Assemblywoman Cr ystal Peoples-Stokes
This former machinery factory will soon be the site of a major training facility.
50 OVER 50 NEW YORK’S
We are 70,000 men and women proud to help clean, maintain and protect our city’s buildings for all New Yorkers.
On behalf of the members of 32BJ SEIU, congratulations to our President Héctor Figueroa and all of the 50 Over 50 awardees.
32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.
25 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011 • www.seiu32bj.org
At City & State, we like our lists. Every year we publish two 40 Under 40 lists, recognizing rising stars in politics and government in New York City and in Albany. We carefully assess the power players in the city and the state to bring you our annual Power 100 lists. As part of our Above & Beyond series, we honor women who stand out in their fields and military veterans who go beyond the call of duty. Every week, we present the biggest winners and losers in New York politics. Now, we bring you something new: the 50 Over 50. In this special section, we honor 50 New Yorkers who are at least 50 years old. We recognize the record of achievement of these outstanding figures, who have distinguished themselves in academia, advocacy, business, government, organized labor and other fields and professions. Many of them are widely known. Others have become influential figures behind the scenes. All of them have an impressive record of accomplishment. Congratulations to them all!
50 over 50 NEW YORK 2016
PRESIDENT, RETAIL, WHOLESALE AND DEPARTMENT STORE UNION
DEAN, BARUCH COLLEGE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
PARTNER, PITTA BISHOP DEL GIORNO & GIBLIN
For nearly two decades Appelbaum has led the RWDSU, which represents a wide range of employees, from maintenance workers to service and clerical laborers, and has advocated for a host of issues, including a living wage, combatting poverty and rights for the LGBT community. An active Democrat, he has undertaken various roles for the Democratic National Committee and currently serves as executive vice president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
Some academics are content to hide away in their ivory towers. Birdsell is not one of them. He is a frequent commentator on political matters and a go-to expert on everything from infrastructure projects to the nuts and bolts of how governments actually work. Not only is he assessing the effectiveness of elected officials and public offices – he’s making Baruch a better place, too, as special assistant to the president for institutional effectiveness.
With quiet efficiency, Bishop has advocated for various unions for more than three decades, often convincing state Senate Republicans to pass bills that help working-class New Yorkers. Bishop, who has a genuine, laid-back demeanor, is also giving of his time, serving on the President’s Council of New York City’s YMCA and on the boards of the Queens County Farm Museum and the Little Neck-Douglaston Memorial Day Parade – one of the nation’s biggest.
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR UNIVERSITY RELATIONS AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY
There has been a lot of talk about sustainability in New York City in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, but Brown and NYU were ahead of the curve. As co-founder of the school’s Sustainability Task Force, Brown has spent more than a decade thinking of creative ways to make the campus more environmentally friendly, while also playing a key role in the strategic planning of the school’s growth, which the city approved in 2012.
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Lisa Linden, President & CEO
for being recognized among New York‘s most influential professionals
Congratulations to all of City & State’s “50 Over Fifty” Awardees lakpr.com
CEO, CAPALINO + COMPANY
CHAIRMAN AND CEO, RED APPLE GROUP
PRESIDENT AND CEO, BUILDING TRADES EMPLOYERS ASSOCIATION
CHAIRMAN, NEW YORK STATE REPUBLICAN COMMITTEE
The real estate executive and supermarket mogul has become ubiquitous in New York political circles, despite his unsuccessful bid for New York City mayor in 2013. His weekly radio show has hosted officials on both sides of the aisle, from progressive darling Mayor Bill de Blasio to former Vice President Dick Cheney. Catsimatidis is also a prodigious political contributor, who once said, “I don’t do fundraisers; I write checks.”
Construction in New York City has been up and down over the past two decades, but Coletti has been a steady presence in the industry through those peaks and valleys since taking over as the president of the BTEA in 1997. One example was the 2008 deal he helped cut with the private sector to develop an Economic Recovery Project Labor Agreement to help insulate the industry from the Great Recession.
Cox has been involved in Republican politics since working for Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign in 1968. He has been the state Republican Party chairman since 2009 and has worked throughout his career to elect candidates at all levels of government, including former Gov. George Pataki. He also practices corporate and finance law and is a veteran of the Reserve Officers Training Corp.
A disciple of former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, Capalino has spent his whole life around city government. At age 28 he was named Commissioner of General Services and helped turn around a department of more than 2,000 employees that was embroiled in scandal, leading to praise in the New York Times when he left the administration to embark on what became a successful privatesector career – capstoned by his lobbying firm’s growth into the largest in the city.
STROOCK We are proud to support City & State and join in honoring our colleague
Jerry H. Goldfeder Special Counsel, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP
for his dedication and contributions to the City of New York , , - . . . . . . • • • h ,
50 over 50 NEW YORK 2016
Nicholas & Lence Communications congratulates
President, Nicholas & Lence Communications
As an acclaimed honoree of
City & State’s 50 Over Fifty Awards Thank you George for your constant dedication, commitment and enthusiasm which continues to make New York a better place.
FOUNDER, PARK STRATEGIES
PRESIDENT, 32BJ SEIU
In his 18 years as a U.S. Senator, D’Amato built a record as a moderate who delivered for the state. Although he left Congress more than 17 years ago, he remains one of the state’s influential Republicans. His expertise on legislative and policy matters and his strong bipartisan political connections make his Park Strategies firm a major player, and each year it’s one of the state’s top lobbying firms.
Figueroa is one of the state’s newer labor leaders, but a lot has been accomplished on his watch. New York recently became one of the first states to enact a $15 minimum wage, and Figueroa was at the forefront of the fight for months, dating back to the successful “Fight for $15” for fast food workers. And with 70,000 members in New York, his 32BJ SEIU has organizing ability and influence that makes it a leading labor unions.
VICE CHAIRMAN, MUSEUM OF JEWISH HERITAGE
PRESIDENT, CITIZENS BUDGET COMMISSION
Few have done more to fight anti-Semitism than Foxman, who dedicated his entire life to the cause after surviving the Holocaust as a young boy in Poland. He spent nearly five decades at the Anti-Defamation League, serving as its national director for nearly 30 years. His latest endeavor is to lead a new center to study anti-Semitism and hatred at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.
Kellermann has devoted more than 25 years of her life to nonprofit, philanthropic and government organizations. Before becoming president of the Citizens Budget Commission, she held leadership positions with several nonprofit and charitable organizations, including the September 11 Fund, Learning Leaders and the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, and also served as deputy commissioner of the New York City Department of Finance.
CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CBS 2 NEWS
PRESIDENT, NEW YORK STATE TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION
Kramer is probably the most feared political reporter in all of New York City. No one is better at exposing politicians indecisiveness, lack of detail or outright hypocrisy. And she does it in under two minutes in a way that all New Yorkers can clearly understand. While other journalists may delve deep into policy and politics to expose waste or corruption, Kramer’s reporting brings it home to the masses who determine the outcome of elections.
Law runs in Goldberg’s family. A third-generation litigator, he has dedicated his life to protecting victims of crime or negligence. As the president of NYSTLA, he has advocated adeptly for key issues in Albany, including safe construction sites. He also offers his legal services to several charities, including Children’s Arts and Science Workshops, which serves at-risk youth in New York City.
New York’s 21st Century Infrastructure Depends on Clean, Reliable, Affordable Energy B Y L AW R E N C E C . S A L L E Y, A I C P
New York is the Empire State in no small part because we have a history of investing in infrastructure, starting nearly 200 years ago with the Erie Canal which made our state an economic powerhouse. Communities thrive, businesses grow, and jobs multiply when people have access to quality transportation and utilities. Our prosperity depends on sustaining and innovating when it comes to our infrastructure and that in turn depends on having a steady supply of affordable energy. The world of energy is changing fast. We have new technologies, concerns about our environment, and many new regulations and mandates with which to comply. We have an aging transmission grid to maintain and improve. In view of these demands on our investment resources and utility ratepayers, it’s important to set priorities. We should generate the power we need right here in New York. There’s a big push now to develop renewables, like wind and solar, which provide electricity without emitting carbon or pollutants, another key priority that’s rapidly being translated into law. Clean energy is our future; thanks to our nuclear fleet, it is also our present. As we build the next generation of energy sources, it’s crucial that we sustain the plants we currently have that are providing clean electricity—as well as thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity—reliably and affordably throughout the state. In addition, we should move forward with hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) to recover natural gas in the Marcellus Shale along our southern tier. Fracking would provide the cleanest fossil-fuel energy there is, from within our own state, and create thousands more new jobs and a badly-needed economic boost. Finally, we need to support New York’s utilities by updating and enhancing energy transmission through our grid, portions of which are many decades old and badly in need of replacement. Capacity zones help facilitate investment, and to help ratepayers in these zones, energy taxes can and should be reduced. For two centuries, the Empire State has been at the forefront of innovation. As we transform our infrastructure for the 21st Century, let’s make sure we have all the clean energy we need, produced reliably and affordably here in New York.
SPECIAL COUNSEL, STROOCK
FORMER PRESIDENT, MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
Goldfeder literally wrote the book on election law. The author of the widely cited “Goldfeder’s Modern Election Law,” he served as special counsel to then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and then-state Sen. David Paterson before signing on with Stroock. Also an adjunct professor at University of Pennsylvania Law School and Fordham Law School, Goldfeder is often referenced for his expertise in the media. The longtime attorney has been recognized for his work by a number of publications across the state.
For more than 50 years Gund has been one of New York City’s most prominent advocates for art, education, women’s rights, environmental stewardship and many other causes to improve the city. Most famous for her time as President of MoMA from 1991 to 2002, she currently is a member of the Board of Trustees for the National Council on the Arts – appointed by President Obama – and serves on the New York State Council on the Arts.
About the Author: Lawrence Salley is a former Westchester County Commissioner of Transportation, as well as a former Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Planning. He is a certified planner who currently serves as secretary of the African American Men of Westchester, and on the boards of Community Capital New York and ArtsWestchester. He has been the chairman of the White Plains Housing Authority since 1995.
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The New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance (New York AREA) is a diverse group of business, labor, environmental, and community leaders working together for clean, low-cost and reliable electricity solutions that foster prosperity and jobs for the Empire State.
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50 over 50 NEW YORK 2016
DAVID R. JONES
SENIOR VICE CHANCELLOR, CUNY
PROFESSOR AND SYSTEM CHAIR, MOUNT SINAI EMERGENCY MEDICINE
PRESIDENT AND CEO, COMMUNITY SERVICE SOCIETY OF NEW YORK
DIRECTOR, CHINESE-AMERICAN PLANNING COUNCIL
After establishing himself as a decorated doctor during his service in the U.S. Navy, Jagoda made his way to Mount Sinai, where he was instrumental in improving the hospital’s first-rate emergency room by establishing the Academic Department of Emergency Medicine – one of most regarded programs in the nation. He has earned countless awards for excellence and recently was president of the Association for Academic Chairs in Emergency Medicine.
Jones’ entire life has been dedicated to improving the lives of low-income New Yorkers. He got his start with the Koch administration as a special adviser on race relations before engaging on a 30-plus year career at CSS, where he has fought for more access to health care, affordable housing and the creation of economic opportunity for millions. It’s hard to imagine what New York City would look like without the decades of great work from CSS and Jones.
For more than 50 years the Chinese-American Planning Council has served as a beacon for Chinese-Americans, providing warm lunches, health care and many more social services to thousands. For much of that time Kee has been a driving force behind the nonprofit’s success. An incredible community organizer with a warm and accessible style, Kee’s signature accomplishment is probably her instrumental role in the success of the extremely popular Open Door Senior Citizen Center.
PRESIDENT, BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION TRADES OF GREATER NEW YORK
PRESIDENT, NICHOLAS & LENCE COMMUNICATIONS LLC
Bold and energetic, LaBarbera has been a fixture of the New York City labor community since the 1980s, having also worked for the Teamsters and the Central Labor Council. As president of the Building Trades, he has fought hard to ensure construction workers are protected and well paid as the city has grown. He also donates his time to several charities and advocacy groups, including the Boy Scouts of America Greater New York Councils and the Ronald McDonald House.
New York City has many cheerleaders, but Lence is among the biggest. For decades he was dedicated to making the city a better place through public service, including helping thenMayor Rudy Giuliani with state legislative affairs. His career took him to NYC & Company, where he spent six tough years successfully convincing tourists to return to the city after 9/11. His love for the Big Apple has not diminished in the last decade as he has moved into the private sector.
The City University of New York is a major player in city and state politics, and the university system’s point person on political matters has long been Hershenson. As senior vice chancellor, he understands not just how CUNY works, but the broader power structure of New York. His wife, Rebecca Seawright, joined the Assembly last year, but he already had strong connections in the Democratic conference, which beat back major funding cuts this year.
FOUNDER, THE BLACK INSTITUTE
When New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took office in 2014, Lewis was one of his most valuable allies. But halfway through the mayor’s first term, the community activist has taken on what may be an even more influential role as a watchdog of his administration. The cofounder of the Working Families Party has spoken out on everything from police-community relations to contracting for minority- and women-owned firms to the city’s affordable housing plan.
FORMER NEW YORK CITY DEPUTY MAYOR
In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, New York City was paralyzed. Subways were a mess. But within just 72 hours, almost all of the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s tracks were up and running, thanks in part to Lhota's leadership. The herculean effort was a capstone to a lifetime of public service by Lhota, including his stint as head of operations for Mayor Giuliani in the ’90s. Lhota now serves as coordinator of medical care, research and education at Langone Medical Center.
NOT JUST A
School of Public Affairs... EXPLORE MORE AT BARUCH.CUNY.EDU/SPA/WHOWEARE
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Centrally located in Midtown Manhattan, Baruch College connects its student body to the global community it serves with access to over 40,000 nonprofits and INGO’s.
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The School of Public Affairs’ student body is the most diverse of any college offering full-time public administration graduate programs.
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The Master of Public Administration is a NASPAA-Accredited degree program.
OUR MISSION The mission of the School of Public Affairs and its programs is to enhance the performance of governmental and nonprofit institutions in New York and the nation in the interest of effective and equitable public service and public policy in a diverse society. We place special emphasis on educating responsive and accountable leaders who combine managerial expertise, creative and critical thinking, and rigorous analysis in the formation and execution of public policy
50 over 50 NEW YORK 2016
MANHATTAN MEDICINE SERVICE LINE DIRECTOR, NORTHWELL HEALTH
PRESIDENT AND CEO, LAK PUBLIC RELATIONS
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GOOD SHEPHERD SERVICES
PRESIDENT AND CEO, MARINO
Linden’s body of work is truly remarkable. Over the past four decades she served as a top aide to elected officials in Albany and Washington, D.C., before embarking on a successful career as a highly sought-after communications consultant. But her list of accomplishments doesn’t stop there. Her extracurricular achievements include board positions at NYC & Company, the New York League of Conservation Voters, the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and many, many more.
Good Shepherd Services has been a beacon of hope for at-risk youths in New York City for more than three decades. Sister Paulette has helped grow an organization that provides important services for struggling children and teens, with a focus on building deep bonds with family, school and community. In her 20-plus years as executive director, she has made a positive impact on the lives of tens of thousands of young boys and girls.
A product of the Koch administration and a veteran aide to Assembly Democrats, Marino is best known for the powerful public relations and strategic communications firm that bears his name. His work has helped big businesses and nonprofits alike to get their message out, but also helped lead the charge on political issues like redevelopment after Hurricane Sandy and the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site.
LUIS A. MIRANDA
JAMES P. MOLINARO
SUPERINTENDENT, MANHATTAN NATIONAL HISTORIC SITES
PARTNER, CONNELLY MCLAUGHLIN & WOLOZ
MANAGING PARTNER, MIRRAM GROUP
Each year, over 14 million passersby descend on Wall Street and the iconic statue of George Washington on the steps of Federal Hall National Memorial. McKinney, a dedicated 30-year public servant of the National Park Service, stands ready to greet them all. Among her mandates in 2016, the National Park Service’s centennial year, is its newest star, Alexander Hamilton, and his historic home in Harlem.
Few people are as tightly woven into the fabric of New York City government and media as McLaughlin. The Air Force lieutenant has had three remarkable careers – first as a journalist for the Daily News, then as a press person for prominent pols like Ed Koch and communications director for the House Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee, and finally as a successful consultant representing many of the city’s leaders in real estate and trade.
An Ed Koch disciple, Miranda has been working to help New York City’s most vulnerable since the 1980s. He served as director of the Mayor’s Office of Hispanic Affairs, chairman of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation and has been an advisor to countless elected officials, including the U.S. Senate campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer. He serves as chairman of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, fighting in the courts to get New York City more equal funding for education.
The closure of St. Vincent’s Hospital in 2010 left Greenwich Village with a severe deficiency in health care access. Licht was quick to act, taking a leading role in establishing Lenox Health Greenwich Village, providing needed services to the community. His fast action was no surprise. In the days after Sept. 11, Licht helped managed the largest volunteer medical response to the attacks. A specialist in preventative medicine, Licht has been a leading figure in New York City medicine for more than two decades.
FORMER STATEN ISLAND BOROUGH PRESIDENT
Even though he was born and raised in Manhattan, Molinaro has been a mainstay of Staten Island politics for more than five decades, serving as a top aide to leaders like Guy Molinari as well as making his own imprint as borough president for 12 years. An advocate for health care, he has served as chairman of St. Elizabeth Ann’s Health Care and Rehabilitation Center and worked to establish the island’s first AIDS medical center in the late ’80s.
50 over 50 NEW YORK 2016
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT FOR GOVERNMENT RELATIONS, RELATED COMPANIES
URBAN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Hollywood screenwriters would have a hard time inventing a life story as rich and varied as O’Byrne’s. A high-powered lawyer in his youth, he left the legal profession to become a Catholic priest, establishing himself as a leading intellectual leader until he became one of the church’s biggest critics on issues of sexuality and the priesthood. A longtime friend of the Kennedys, it was no surprise that O’Byrne made his way to politics, serving as Gov. David Paterson’s top aide.
GENE RUSSIANOFF SENIOR ATTORNEY, NEW YORK PUBLIC INTEREST RESEARCH GROUP
Russianoff has long been an advocate for subway commuters, having worked for NYPIRG’s Straphangers Campaign since the late 1970s. He has played a key role in building support for billions of dollars in new investment for the New York City subway system to improve reliability and make the transit experience as enjoyable as possible. The Brooklynborn advocate has frequently appeared on television, radio and newspaper articles to fight for a better subway system.
For almost 40 years Roberts has been covering New York City, using his critical, probing eye for detail and creative mind as he built a repository of great works, first for the Daily News and then the Times. He also hosts an hourlong TV show on NY1, The New York Times Close Up. If that wasn’t enough, he is also the author of several powerful books examining the fabric of the city.
BILL SAMUELS FOUNDER, EFFECTIVENY
A devoted progressive, Samuels founded EffectiveNY to advocate for improved governance in New York. He hosts the government watchdog group’s weekly radio broadcast and pushed New York City to organize a governmentrun retirement savings program for private sector workers, who increasingly exit the workforce with meager savings. Previously Samuels broke with the New York Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, where he served as finance chairman, to start The New Roosevelt Initiative.
VITO A. TURSO
PARTNER AT SIEBERT, BRANDFORD, SHANK AND CO.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, PUBLIC AFFAIRS, NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF SANITATION
Thompson, who was the runnerup in a tight Democratic primary for New York City mayor in 2013, has long been a public servant, and was New York City Comptroller from 2002 to 2009. Since leaving elected office, Thompson has continued to be involved in government, serving as chairman of the Housing Finance Agency and the State of New York Mortgage Agency, while also working to fund things like education, housing and infrastructure in his privatesector role.
If you go to Turso’s Twitter account you will see a very apt description of the work he does. “Deputy Commissioner for explaining stuff,” he writes. Since the late ’70s, Turso has dedicated his life to service of the city, spending most of his time at the Department of Sanitation, where he has made it his mission to let the public know about the work DSNY’s 10,000 employees do each day.
“The Community Service Society congratulates David R. Jones, Esq., on his achievements, advocacy and contributions to promoting economic advancement and full civic participation for low-income New Yorkers.”
President and CEO, Community Service Society.
PRINTSPOTLIGHTS PETER WARD
PRESIDENT, NEW YORK HOTEL AND MOTEL TRADES COUNCIL
CHAIRMAN, NEW YORK CITY PLANNING COMMISSION
Ward’s rise to become one of the most powerful and influential labor leaders in New York happened over several decades of hard work as he moved through the ranks as an organizer, business agent and manager before becoming president of the Hotel Trades in 1996. Since then, he has fought in the trenches for better pay for his union and has established industry standards for compensation and benefits, setting a model for the state and country.
At the helm of New York City’s Planning Commission, Weisbrod has advanced Mayor Bill de Blasio’s ambitious affordable housing plan from a zoning standpoint. He’s familiar with the code – and with government – after more than 35 years of service, starting with anti-poverty legal work under former Mayor John Lindsay and later becoming executive director of the Department of City Planning, founder of the New York City Economic Development Corporation and a leader of several lower Manhattan organizations.
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/ LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD HONOREES
LILLIAM BARRIOS-PAOLI FORMER DEPUTY MAYOR OF HEALTH
TONIO BURGOS CEO, TONIO BURGOS & ASSOCIATES INC.
Lilliam Barrios-Paoli arrived in New York City in 1971 to study anthropology at The New School, where she would earn a master’s as well as Ph.D. After a stint teaching at Rutgers University, Barrios-Paoli began her career in public service at the city’s Human Resources Administration, one of several city agencies she would go on to head, along with the Department for the Aging, the former Department of Employment, the Department of Personnel (now the Department of Citywide Administrative Services), and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. In December 2013, Barrios-Paoli was appointed deputy mayor for health and human services, and from that post she carried out changes to the city’s Code Blue policy, guaranteeing shelter to homeless families on the coldest nights of the year. Barrios-Paoli also worked to transition families out of congregate care, and instituted child welfare reforms, as well as changes to the Work Experience Program. Though she has served four mayors in a variety of capacities, Barrios-Paoli, a native of Mexico, says the central mission of her work has always been combating the effects of poverty. Growing up in a developing country had a profound impact on her outlook. “I could see (poverty) all around me,” Barrios-Paoli said. “It’s very difficult not to feel compassion for others if you are seeing that day in and day out.” Now the chairwoman of the city’s Health + Hospitals Board, Barrios-Paoli says public service, at its core, is about ensuring that assets reach the people who need them most, in the most effective, efficient and respectful manner possible. Barrios-Paoli says her own experience as an immigrant shaped her perspective when addressing the challenges faced by the immense population of foreign-born New Yorkers, many of whom struggle with integration in one form or another. “I’m an immigrant who has been successful, but that does not mean that I never experienced the ‘otherness’ and the sense of not belonging that many immigrants feel,” Barrios-Paoli said. When she arrived in New York, Barrios-Paoli had no intention of spending her entire career in the city. But opportunities arose, and plans changed. Reflecting on the unexpected course her life took, Barrios-Paoli feels nothing but gratitude. “I have been given an incredible opportunity to do good work,” she said. “Not everybody gets that in life.”
Tonio Burgos began his rise in politics when Hugh Carey was elected governor of New York in 1974. Mario Cuomo, Carey’s secretary of state, brought him on as a special adviser. When Cuomo became lieutenant governor four years later, he made Burgos his chief of staff. In 1982, after winning the governorship himself, Cuomo brought Burgos into his new administration as appointment secretary, placing him in charge of personnel decisions throughout the state. In 1984, Burgos became director of executive services, a job akin to chief of staff. On his 15 years working for Mario Cuomo, Burgos recalled that the former governor “empowered people to make decisions for him, was comfortable with that, and because of that I learned a lot.” After Burgos left the Cuomo administration in 1988, the governor named him a commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a post he would hold until 1996. In 1995, President Bill Clinton appointed Burgos to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, and he has also served as a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Board of Trustees. Burgos re-entered government in 2002, when New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey appointed him vice chairman of that state’s Economic Development Authority. He would also serve as treasurer of the Camden Economic Recovery Board. In 2002, Gov. George Pataki appointed Burgos to the Advisory Committee of the Lower Manhattan Economic Development Corporation, where he advised on transportation issues until 2005. Reflecting on his career, Burgos feels particularly proud of the efforts he has undertaken to bolster diversity both in and around government. “When I got to Albany, there were not a lot of Latino and African-American appointees in government,” Burgos said. “If you ask anyone who served in the first Cuomo administration, they will tell you that we made a big effort to create true diversity.” In addition to his work in government, for the past 28 years Burgos has run a consulting and lobbying firm with a large presence in the tri-state area, as well as Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Tonio Burgos & Associates has undertaken a broad spectrum of public and private projects in transportation, energy, health care, communications and other areas. “The beauty of New York, the beauty of the region, the beauty of the country is that we’re constantly growing, constantly improving, constantly building,” Burgos said.
50 over 50 NEW YORK 2016
RAY KELLY FORMER COMMISSIONER, NYPD
/ LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD HONOREES
Ray Kelly began his second stint as NYPD commissioner under circumstances that no police commissioner had ever faced before. New York had a new mayor, and the aftershock of the September 11th attacks still reverberated throughout the nation. “We knew we had to do certain things very quickly,” Kelly recalled. Under his leadership, the NYPD transformed itself in a manner unprecedented for a municipal police force. A mere month into Kelly’s second tenure as police chief, a new counterrorism bureau was already operating. He expanded the NYPD’s intelligence division and recruited top talent from the federal government, including the FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, State Department, Defense Intelligence Agency and Drug Enforcement Administration. He deployed police officers to 11 countries to act as listening posts for the city, and sought to diversify the force, both linguistically and culturally. Today the NYPD has officers who were born in 106 different countries. “It was a challenge, like a battleship – to turn it in another direction takes time and a lot of effort,” Kelly said. Even as Kelly devoted immense time and resources to building up the department’s counter-terrorism force, street crime continued to plummet. The number of murders was nearly halved under his second watch, and the city has not experienced another terrorist attack since 2001. In addition to serving longer than any NYPD commissioner in history, Kelly has held a number of other top posts over the course of his career. He served as undersecretary of the Treasury and U.S. Customs Commissioner during the Clinton administration. He was director of the International Police Monitor of the Multinational Force in Haiti from 1994 to 1995. Kelly served as a First Lieutenant in Vietnam, and he credits the Marine Corps with giving him the skills that allowed him to provide strong leadership when the city needed it most. And lest he ever forget them, a notebook that Kelly carries with him every day lists the principal leadership traits of the Marine Corps. Asked about his approach to decision-making, Kelly replied that it’s a “pretty direct” one. “I certainly consult with other people, but there is only one decision-maker in the jobs that I’ve had,” he said. “And sometimes you don’t have full information, you don’t have everything that you want, but a decision has got to be made.”
Congratulations to Gary LaBarbera and all the Honorees for being Recognized on City & State’s 50 Over 50 List
The Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York Proudly Representing 100,000 Working Men and Women in NYC’s Unionized Construction Industry
/ LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD HONOREES
ERNIE LOGAN PRESIDENT, COUNCIL OF SCHOOL SUPERVISORS AND ADMINISTRATORS
When his father passed away, Ernie Logan’s fourth-grade teacher, Rose, helped him cope with the grief, encouraging him to write his memories down on paper. Rose would remain a part of Logan’s life for decades to come, and her example inspired not only his own decision to become a teacher, but his core belief in the power of public education. “Children deserve the very best that you can give them and public education is the venue that provides that,” Logan said. “Public education is the great equalizer. When you can provide someone with an education, you open up the world for them.” Logan worked in the New York City public school system for 25 years as an English teacher, curriculum writer, assistant principal and principal. He went on to hold a number of posts within the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators (CSA), rising through the ranks before his election as the union’s president in 2006. Logan, who was reelected in February to his fourth term as president, believes the key to good leadership is honesty, both in setting realistic expectations and in communicating transparently with members. “When you want to get your members to follow you, they need to know what you know,” he said. As CSA president – and executive vice president of CSA’s national union, the American Federation of School Administrators – Logan has lobbied not only for better contracts for his members, but for the resources that public schools need, and the professional development that his members need, in order to succeed. Logan has not limited his advocacy to causes that fall within the strict purview of education, either. “When the children’s families are struggling, the children are struggling,” he said. “Poverty is a problem. Homelessness is a major problem. The lack of jobs is a major problem, and all of that affects the schools, and what the schools can do.” At the same time, Logan believes education is the best long-term remedy for many of those same social ills – not to mention the only bulwark against the type of political leader that feeds off of ignorance. If you educate the populace, he said, “you don’t have to worry about demagogues. You don't have to worry about the crazy folks. People will understand for themselves, and research where people are coming from.”
50 over 50 NEW YORK 2016
/ LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD HONOREES
BOB MORGENTHAU FORMER MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY
ELEANOR RANDOLPH CONTRIBUTING EDITORIAL WRITER, THE NEW YORK TIMES
When he was Manhattan’s district attorney, Robert Morgenthau would prosecute roughly 100,000 cases a year. Multiply that by three and half decades, and you have 3.5 million cases in the span of a legendary career. Some of those, of course, garnered more attention than others – the Irene Silverman case, for example, in which Morgenthau nailed down a murder conviction without a body or eyewitness. And there was his dogged pursuit of BCCI, one of the largest international fraud and money laundering cases of its time, which netted more than $800 million in fines. But don’t expect Morgenthau to play favorites. “Every case was important for the victim,” he affirmed. And although the former DA admits to missing the “fine young lawyers” he worked with, and the “challenges” they took on together, he’s not one to dwell on the past. “When I left the DA’s Office, I said, ‘I’m not going to look back,’” Morgenthau said. “When I left the U.S. Attorney’s Office, I said, ‘I’m not going to look back. I’m going to look forward.’” Indeed, since leaving the DA’s office in 2009, Morgenthau has joined the law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen, & Katz. He also helped found the Immigration Justice Corps, an organization that provides legal counsel to immigrants, regardless of their legal status. It’s a cause the former DA has publicly championed, and one that his own family story inspired. “You have to know where you came from,” Morgenthau said. “I think it’s very important to make sure that the current crop of immigrants has the same opportunities that my grandfather had 150 years ago.” Prior to his tenure as DA, Morgenthau served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York – President Kennedy appointed him – as well as deputy mayor of New York City under John Lindsay. Asked if any political figure had particularly impressed him over the course of his life, Morgenthau recalled learning of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death while aboard a destroyer off Okinawa Island. Even the date he recalled: April 12. “It was the first time in my adult life that I had ever cried,” Morgenthau said. On the eve of the war, Morgenthau went on to recount, his father, Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr., took him out to Hyde Park on Election Day. Morgenthau had returned home from college to cast his first vote. He recalled watching as the president who had guided the country through the Great Depression, and would soon lead it into an even graver fight, drafted an acceptance speech, as well as a speech of regret. “He was a great leader,” Morgenthau recalled. “We have not seen the likes of him again.”
In a career spanning more than four decades, Eleanor Randolph has reported on national and local politics, as well as the media, Russia, medicine, law, the arts and women's issues. She has also served as a White House correspondent. Randolph had been working as a national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times when she was hired by Howell Raines, then the editorial page editor at The New York Times, in 1998. She would spend the next 18 years as a member of its vaunted editorial board, focusing most recently on Albany and City Hall. She authored the “Fixing Albany” editorial series on state government from 2004 to 2005, and has been nominated twice for a Pulitzer Prize. Randolph is currently a contributing editorial writer with the paper, working on endorsements of state and congressional candidates, a process she once described as “frightening.” “I felt very strongly that the endorsement of The New York Times was a really powerful agent for some kind of political good,” Randolph said. “Now, that may not be as true as it used to be, but I think it is. A lot of people look at the Times and say, ‘I know they vetted these candidates, and I know they're trying their best to pick the best one.’ So that was what was frightening. I was always afraid that, under my watch, we would pick somebody who was going to go to jail, or someone with a secret horror show there.” And yet, as The Observer once noted, “The seas part when Ms. Randolph makes an appearance in Albany or in the corridors of City Hall, but she is, by most accounts, an unassuming presence in New York political circles.” A Florida native, Randolph studied History at Emory University and began working at the Pensacola News Journal in 1968. She has also worked for The St. Petersburg Times, The Chicago Tribune and The Washington Post. Randolph lived in Russia shortly after the fall of communism and published a book, “Waking the Tempests: Ordinary Life in the New Russia,” on the chaos of the early post-Soviet years. Her writing has also appeared in Vogue, Esquire and The New Republic, among other magazines. She is a visiting scholar at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and currently at work on a biography of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, due to be published next year. Randolph, who has stated that she always wanted to be a journalist, got her start in the profession writing for a small newspaper in Florida. “I got my big break when there was a fire and I, literally, was the only person who was not inebriated on the City Desk,” she once recounted. “And so I drove out to the fire and wrote about it and fell in love – fell in love with the profession.”
METROPOLITAN PUBLIC STRATEGIES CONGRATULATES NYHTC PRESIDENT
As one of New York’s most inﬂuential labor leaders, Peter Ward is being recognized for his years of outstanding leadership and visionary organizing strategies that have made New York’s hospitality industry the model of labor-management cooperation.
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50 over 50 NEW YORK 2016
RICHARD RAVITCH FORMER LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
/ LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD HONOREES
In 1974, the Urban Development Corp., a public benefit corporation that had been established to create affordable housing throughout the state, was on the brink of collapse. Gov. Hugh Carey called on Dick Ravitch to save the corporation from bankruptcy, while ensuring that 30,000 units already under construction would be completed. The complex bailout that he ultimately conceived would serve as a model for the subsequent state and federal bailout of New York City, and Ravitch had earned his rep as a man who could fix a fiscal mess. “First of all, I was trained a lawyer,” Ravitch explained. “And second, I could never figure out what I wanted to do (with my life), so I kept going from public service to business, and therefore I presumably had a skill set ... that was useful for solving government problems that involved finance and debt and the law.” Whatever indecisiveness Ravitch felt about his own career path did not carry over when a problem needed solving. In 1979, Carey called on him again, this time to chair the floundering MTA. Ravitch successfully secured the funding needed to revitalize and rebuild the subway and bus system. Moreover, he affirmed the independence of the authority in holding his ground as chairman when Mario Cuomo succeeded Carey as governor. “I was able to establish that in fact the MTA could run as an independent authority, which is the basis on which it was created,” Ravitch said. “It was not a tool for governors, which it has become.” In 1989, Ravitch ran in the New York City Democratic mayoral primary, and though his campaign finished a distant third, he remembers the experience as uplifting. “Ever since,” he said, “I’ve encouraged any young person I meet who I think may have any proclivity at all to run for office.” For Ravitch, who would later serve as the state’s lieutenant governor, today’s political culture discourages the best and brightest from devoting their careers to public service. “There are too many self-righteous, pompous people who use ‘politics’ as a pejorative phrase,” Ravitch said. “They don’t appreciate that politics is a process by which democracy functions.” Ravitch’s own commitment to public service came at a young age. As the chairman of Students for Stevenson during the 1952 presidential election, he invited Eleanor Roosevelt to speak at Columbia University. What’s more, the 19-year-old Ravitch had the “audacity” to ask the former first lady out to lunch. To his wonder, she accepted. “It was the thrill of a lifetime,” he recalled.
North Shore-LIJ is now Northwell Health
Lenox Hill Hospital is proud to recognize our colleague
Dr. Warren Licht for his ongoing commitment to making New York City a better place to live, work and play. Congratulations to all the honorees.
Lenox Health Greenwich Village
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HOWARD RUBENSTEIN CHAIRMAN, RUBENSTEIN ASSOCIATES
The Bensonhurst kid penning press releases for a nursing home from his family’s kitchen table – the story of how Howard Rubenstein got his start is well-known lore. It was a gig that Rubenstein’s father, a crime reporter for the Herald Tribune, helped him score. And that wasn’t the only help his father gave. “He knew there was a lot of crookedness in the early days of PR,” Rubenstein recalled, and his father warned him not to cross certain ethical lines. Not only was sticking to a moral code the right thing to do, the younger Rubenstein would learn, it worked wonders for business. “It’s how you build credibility and better your reputation as a straight shooter, a trustworthy source of information, and an honest broker,” he said. A pioneer in the communications field, Rubenstein helped professionalize and raise the stature of public relations to the point where the industry had earned “a seat at the table.” “When I started, PR practitioners were bit players, angling for space in the many newspapers through stunts and gimmicks,” said Rubenstein, who once invited a camel to a political press conference. “While there is still a role for some of that today, the best public relations professionals now work alongside top management and boards of directors, playing an important role in the decisions, policies and strategies of world-class organizations as they pursue their missions.” From its modest beginnings, Rubenstein Associates, founded in 1954, would go on to represent many of the New York’s great cultural, educational, health and media institutions. Over the years, Rubenstein has been many things to many different people. He’s advised mayors and governors. He’s been a close confidant to those, like the late George Steinbrenner, who have a knack for making headlines, as well as those, like Rupert Murdoch, who love to publish them. He’s maintained a longstanding relationship with New York’s real estate industry, and was an original founder of the Association for a Better New York (ABNY), which brought together business, labor and civic leaders to help lift the city out of the fiscal crisis of the 1970s. Navigating crises, of course, is something Rubenstein knows a bit about. Dubbed “the dean of damage control” by former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Rubenstein has long been the go-to practitioner for those suffering from the malady brought on by too much exposure to the New York media. And to this day, when a client turns to him in an hour of need, Rubenstein says his first piece of advice remains the same: “Don’t start by asking, ‘What should we say?’” Rubenstein explained. “Start by asking, ‘What’s the right thing to do?’”
New York University congratulates all of tonight’s honorees including
LYNNE BROWN on receiving a 50 Over Fifty award.
50 over 50 NEW YORK 2016
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STEVEN SPINOLA FORMER PRESIDENT, REAL ESTATE BOARD OF NEW YORK
To last three decades as president of one of New York’s most politically influential, and professionally diverse, trade associations requires a keen understanding of people. That means knowing where someone agrees with you and where they disagree, as well as what they can and cannot do. “You have to know the limitations of the people you are talking to – limitations in terms of their political situation, their business situation,” former REBNY President Steven Spinola explained. “You can’t ask people to do things that will hurt them.” From 1986 until he stepped down as president last year, Spinola oversaw an expansion in REBNY’s membership from 4,000 to approximately 17,000 today. Since one of the distinguishing characteristics of the organization is the diversity of its members – residential as well as commercial salespeople, brokers, bankers, building owners and managers, developers, attorneys and architects – it was Spinola’s job to make sure that REBNY was providing the appropriate services to all those members while balancing their needs in determining when and how to focus his time and resources. “The main task for me within the organization was to somehow understand what was the consensus of this important industry, and never have a vote that was going to divide the industry over a particular issue,” said Spinola, who previously headed the New York City Public Development Corporation (now the Economic Development Corporation). Asked to recall some high points of his tenure, Spinola spoke with particular pride of his industry’s response in times of crisis. Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, for instance, REBNY members pitched in to the recovery in a variety of ways, including by providing shuttle bus service to Lower Manhattan. More recently, in the wake of the 2014 East Harlem gas explosion, REBNY and its members helped displaced residents secure temporary accommodation. “The highs (of my career) have always been tied to the lows,” Spinola recalled. “The highs have been the responses to the lows.” Responsible for over 40 percent of the city’s locally generated revenue, the real estate industry is critical to the economic vitality of New York. At the same time, Spinola recognizes that the reverse also holds true. He still recalls the words of the legendary developer Lewis Rudin, who early on told him that 98 percent of the time what is good for the city is good for the real estate industry, too. “That’s what we always have to remember,” Spinola said.
Mount Sinai Health System takes pride in congratulating our valued colleague and revered physician Andy Jagoda, MD for his many distinguished years of public service in New York
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MERRYL TISCH FORMER CHANCELLOR, NEW YORK STATE BOARD OF REGENTS
Appointed to the state Board of Regents in 1996, Merryl Tisch was elected chancellor in 2009. She raised the board’s profile and helped chart a new course for education during a time of charged debate. “The most challenging part of the job, frankly, was to sit in that role during a time when you had to move the needle,” Tisch said. “I think the public was becoming enlivened over the fact that public schools weren’t performing across the board as we had hoped, that we were continuing to show deep lags in the performance of students, particularly minority students in our large urban centers.” In bringing that debate to the forefront, Tisch was not afraid to “displace complacency.” She championed higher standards and accountability, despite facing opposition over factoring student test scores into teacher evaluations. But over the course of her tenure as chancellor, high school graduation rates rose, even with more rigorous standards in place. Education, said Tisch, “is a very local issue, and how you balance local determination with the need for additional rigor, and how you get school districts to buy into that is a very complicated thing,” Tisch said. She was instrumental to New York’s winning application in the Race to the Top competition – which committed the state to adopting Common Core standards, ramping up the number of charter schools, and tethering teacher evaluations to test scores – and oversaw the implementation of a number of programs funded through the $700 million federal grant. During Tisch’s tenure as chancellor, the state also introduced more stringent teacher licensing exams. “There should no longer be a preponderance of the least qualified, uncertified teachers in the highestneed school districts,” she said. In speaking about the inequitable distribution of resources, where one school district may spend twice as much per student as another, Tisch warned that “as the minority communities become majorities in large urban settings, if we do not equalize the playing field for educational opportunity, I think we are putting our democracy in real jeopardy.” In Tisch’s own eyes, the imprimatur of her tenure is one of across-the-board ambition on behalf of every child, regardless of his or her socioeconomic circumstances. Tisch said her overriding goals were to push the system to create pathways for all teachers to receive quality preparation, and for all students to have access to high-quality content and curriculum. “When you back away from being aggressive on behalf of every student, you create pathways for excuses, and I believe there should be no excuses when it comes to pushing the system to perform better, and to perform with equity,” Tisch said.
Congratulations to our dear friend and esteemed colleague Congratulations to our dear friend and esteemed colleague
Congratulations to Jim Capalino, Tom Gray Tom GrayOfficer of Capalino+Company, Chief Executive And all the honorees of City&State’s Above & Beyond AndAnd to all allthe of honorees City & State’s 50 Over Fifty honorees! of City&State’s Above & Beyond Awards for New York’s Veterans and the Military. Awards for New York’s Veterans and the Military.
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A fresh perspective on opinions / Edited by NICK POWELL
The myth of Clinton’s enthusiasm gap
THE PREVAILING PUBLIC NARRATIVE IS THAT THERE’S A DISTINCT LACK OF ENTHUSIASM FOR CLINTON. ... “ENTHUSIASM” HERE IS DEFINED ALMOST ENTIRELY AS A WHITE THING. WHAT IS ENTHUSIASM in politics, and how do we calculate it? Perhaps it’s measured by the quantity and intensity in tone of social media posts. It could be determined by the size of the crowds at a candidate’s speeches and rallies. Or maybe it’s by the volume of low-dollar fundraising contributions. One thing it does not appear to be measured by is actual votes. Consider the current state of the Democratic presidential race as it heads to New York: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is leading Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by millions of votes, hundreds of delegates and still more superdelegates – a nearly insurmountable advantage in terms of what’s
needed to win a nomination contest. A recent poll even showed that Clinton’s supporters are actually more excited by her candidacy than Sanders’ backers are about his. Despite all of this, the prevailing public narrative is that there’s a distinct lack of enthusiasm for Clinton. Just do a Google search for “Hillary Clinton” and “enthusiasm gap” – you’ll find nearly 300,000 results along with a multitude of headlines like: · “Hillary Clinton Races to Close Enthusiasm Gap With Bernie Sanders” · “Lack of Enthusiasm From Supporters May Undermine Clinton’s Lead” · “Clinton Struggles to Close Excitement Gap In Nomination Race”
So how does this narrative explain why Clinton has won 17 of the 21 elections with the highest voter turnout? Or why 91 percent of black voters in Alabama, 84 percent of black voters in Virginia and 71 percent of Latino voters in Texas voted for her? It doesn’t, because “enthusiasm” here is defined almost entirely as a white thing. Conventional wisdom aside, there’s no evidence to indicate that black or brown voters are casting their ballots out of apathetic allegiance to the Clinton brand, or that Sanders’ supporters are turning out as a result of sheer exuberance. This is not to suggest that Sanders’ support among white voters is not impressive. It is. But this meaningless formulation of enthusiasm exposes an undercurrent in the public conversation that too often devalues the votes of non-whites. It’s exacerbated when Sanders campaign surrogates like Tim Robbins insist that elections won in predominantly black electorates somehow don’t matter because no Democrat will carry a red state like South Carolina in the fall. At the same time, no one is denigrating his candidate’s overwhelming victories in Idaho and Utah, which are similarly unwinnable for Democrats in a general election, but where the voting population is virtually 100 percent white. The voters of color that have propelled Clinton to victory in states like Virginia, Ohio or Georgia are among the most reliable Democratic voters anywhere – they are the heart and soul of the party, not an afterthought. Unfortunately, this is not the first time in recent memory that non-white votes have been treated as inferior to white votes.
During the last presidential election, observers routinely asked the question illustrated in this CNN headline from October 2012: “Could Obama’s struggles with white voters cost him the election?” According to this storyline, the president’s “white voter problem” would doom his re-election prospects if corrective action were not taken. It led to extensive coverage of the importance of this demographic group without comparably breathless concern about other voting blocs that could have determined the election’s outcome. Of course, President Obama won a clear and convincing victory despite losing white voters by 20 percentage points, a margin that led to the landslide defeats of previous Democratic nominees like Walter Mondale in 1984 and Michael Dukakis in 1988. The result was decisive not because of Obama’s “weak” showing among whites, but because of his strong support from everyone else in what’s become an increasingly diverse country. Still, of Obama’s historic triumph, one leading publication declared “a broad mandate this is not” because the president had only won a majority of Latinos, AfricanAmericans, single women and highly educated urban voters, not white men. The nation has moved forward since the 1980s, even if conventional wisdom has not. Let’s enthusiastically put these constructs to bed.
James Freedland is a Democratic political strategist based in New York City.
JOSEPH SOHM / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
By JAMES FREEDLAND
Asian vote could be decisive in special election to replace Silver
65th Assembly District candidate Yuh-Line Niou
By BRUCE GYORY
DON’T DISCOUNT THE POTENTIAL FOR YUH-LINE NIOU TO BLEND THE EMPOWERMENT FIRE BURNING WITHIN THE ASIAN COMMUNITY WITH THE ENERGY COURSING THROUGH WHITE PROGRESSIVES COMING OUT FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY. THE SPECIAL ELECTION to succeed Sheldon Silver in the Assembly has gotten too little attention, given it is likely to tell us a great deal about the rising influence of Asian voters. The Democrats selected Alice Cancel, a Puerto Rican district leader, a nomination usually tantamount to a landslide victory in this district. Meanwhile, the Working Families Party has nominated Yuh-Line Niou, a vibrant political activist with strong roots in the Asian community. The Republicans have nominated an Asian businessman, Lester Chang.
The 65th Assembly District draws from four pools of voters: a demographically aging Jewish community and a steadily growing Hispanic vote, both centered in the Lower East Side; an Asian population exploding around Chinatown; and a highly educated, often affluent, white professional vote lodged in and around Battery Park City. Victory will hinge on two factors: the energy and skill of each candidate’s turnout operation and which candidate builds more stable bridges to the two pools without a candidate, all operating
underneath the presidential primary. Alice Cancel has the advantage going in, if she can churn out a large vote from her Hispanic base while generating a bullet vote from Silver’s base (mirroring how she secured the Democratic nomination). But I don’t discount the potential for Yuh-Line Niou to blend the empowerment fire burning within the Asian community with the energy coursing through white progressives coming out for the presidential primary. There will also be a strong dose of tactical skill attending victory. Namely, which campaign does a better job of getting Democrats who turn out for the presidential primary (the Republican primary vote here will be relatively small) to also cast ballots in this separate special election open to all voters on April 19. Why do I sense that Asian voters might be more motivated than other groups to turn out for this special election, giving Yuh-Line Niou a chance to pull off an upset? I sense that the Asian community is simply tired of being ignored by political pundits. The Asian population in New York City, according to the last census, exploded by 32 percent (to roughly 1 million, which is 13 percent of the city’s overall population). This growth was citywide (41 percent in Brooklyn, 40 percent on Staten Island, 24 percent in Manhattan and 23 percent in the Bronx, not to mention that one in five Queens residents is Asian). The Asian vote was 2 to 4 percent of the overall general election vote in New York City from the late 1980s through 2000, but recently it has regularly hit 6 or 7 percent of the total citywide vote. In the 2009 Democratic primary, which saw John Liu elected city comptroller,
New York City’s first AsianAmerican citywide elected official, the Asian vote accounted for 10 percent of all ballots cast. Despite Liu’s success in 2009 and Grace Meng’s election to Congress from Queens in 2012, you still hear from too many pols and political observers the same old whispers about the Asian vote that were applied long ago to other ethnic and racial groups: “They don’t vote” when open seats emerge. Just as with those earlier ethnic blocs, the only way to change the lagging perceptions of the punditry is for Asian voters to turn out and vote. Asian candidates also have a coalition-building template for success from the earlier success of Liu and Meng. For example, while Asian voters were essential to Liu’s election as comptroller, the numerical base of his 2009 coalition was black voters. I will be curious to see if Yuh-Line Niou will follow John Liu’s 2009 bridge-building playbook by targeting white progressive and professional voters flocking to the polls on April 19 to vote for either Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, tied to a surge in prideful Asian voters. In the end, I offer no prediction in this race, precisely because there are too many unknowns. But one thing is certain: If Yuh-Line Niou pulls off a victory, it will be seen historically as a key building block in the inevitable ascension of the Asian influence in New York politics.
Bruce Gyory is a political and strategic consultant at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP and an adjunct professor of political science at SUNY Albany.
ARTIST IN RESIDENCE
A Q&A WITH PULITZER-PRIZE WINNING CARTOONIST ADAM ZYGLIS He grew up in a small town in Erie County watching Buffalo lose jobs and residents. Now Adam Zyglis is the editorial cartoonist for The Buffalo News, drawing the city’s resurgence … sometimes. He’s also the reigning Pulitzer Prize winner in editorial cartooning. Zyglis talked to City & State’s Jeff Coltin (just before this year’s Pulitzers are announced) about life as a Pulitzer winner, disparities in Buffalo and which New York political figure looks most like a caveman.
C&S: What’s changed since you won your Pulitzer Prize? AZ: I guess the best way to put it would be I sort of have a larger megaphone in terms of my work. The reach I have with my audience has grown. Other than that, just a ton of travel, and I can consume less news these days. I’m just excited to pass the Miss America crown to the next Pulitzer winner. It’s exciting, but it’s very exhausting, the year. In a good way. C&S: Your Feb. 28 cartoon touches upon the disparities in Buffalo. It’s a homeless man sleeping on the street underneath newspapers touting all the good things happening in Buffalo – reminiscent of our own “Beyond the Billion” series. Do you see these changes overall as good? Do you see it as your job to be a critic of this positive press? AZ: I think both. Growing up in the area and having my parents see the decline – seeing things genuinely come back in a really inspiring way, to ignore the amazing things that
are happening, I think, is pretty ignorant. You have to celebrate them. But as journalist, my job is really to look with a critical eye at everything that’s happening, especially from government. Long story short, with Cuomo and the Buffalo Billion, you can’t deny that Cuomo has paid far more attention to Buffalo than previous governors. And because of that, you have to like him to a certain degree as a Buffalonian. Part of that could be self-serving. You know, he could be like, “This is my project to show the world that I can turn around this city.” The skeptic in me knows the seeds of the resurgence were placed decades ago. So if he saw a good opportunity – the public sector helped nurture this but it was ripe for revival anyway. The artist community has started that along with nonprofits. And the local economy has sort of set the stage for it. But the Buffalo Billion focused on some of these big projects, like getting IBM in or SolarCity. You need some of those larger things, but I would like to see more money
earmarked specifically for poverty projects. Things that will help the East Side. They’re doing some of that. They’re doing job training centers, but I would like to see a little more. C&S: Do you have a preference for drawing local, national, international news? AZ: I think it really depends on the issue – it’s not the scale of the topic, it’s the issues close to my heart. Issues like social justice, equality. Things that are close to my generation as well, like gay rights, the environment. A lot of those things that are close to my voice as an artist, whether it is local or national, those are the cartoons that I like drawing the most. But the response locally is extra special. Because people in Buffalo really pay attention. It’s a small enough community where you can really wrap your head around it. There’s definitely a collective conversation happening that’s easier to identify than New York or Chicago, where there’s more voices.
C&S: Who’s your favorite New York figure to draw? AZ: Sheldon Silver is wonderful to caricature. The jowls, his expressions, he looks like Eeyore or something. He’s always been almost too easy. Cuomo I love, because of the challenge. I’ve grown to really enjoy drawing him. Spitzer was one of my favorite all-time New York figures to draw. He just has a very caveman-like geometric face. You can break it into shapes easily. C&S: Western New York has seen a lot of sexual harassment scandals lately. What’s the best scandal of your career? AZ: The Spitzer scandal was great for everybody. And it was equal parts sad and terrible. You don’t want to see your sitting governor do something like that, but as a journalist it was a gift. To read about Zyglis’ influences and his thoughts on the local art community read the full interview at cityandstateny.com.
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Published on Apr 14, 2016