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State of the Unions checks in with Norman Seabrook, right, (Page 20)

and Jeff Klein, left, sits down for his

Power Lunch Vol. 2, No. 7

www.cityhallnews.com

(Page 30).

December 2007

One Last Look Days before resigning, Dan Doctoroff tours his legacy BY ANDREW J. HAWKINS he West Side Stadium is nearly two-thirds complete. Its massive foundation is nestled between fresh pockets of open space and parks. On the sidewalks surrounding the development, merchants are already selling shirts and hats emblazoned with the Olympics “NYC2012� logo. Oblivious to the cranes and construction equipment surrounding the stadium, commuters stream in and out of the newly opened No. 7 subway station at 11th Avenue and 34th Street. Construction crews have finished decking over the Hudson Rail Yards. Atop the deck, in addition to the stadium, a host of new skyscrapers are beginning their slow ascent. This was the way it was supposed to be by now. This was

ANDREW SCHWARTZ

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2008: The Year Ahead Predictions from the policy prophets and political psychics start on page 22

INDEX:

Al Sharpton Reminisces About Giuliani 2

John O'Hara Petitions to get his vote back 28


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CITY HALL

Quinn’s Pin on LGBT Vote Questioned Gay activists warn that she may not be able to count on them come 2009 BY ANDREW J. HAWKINS

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SUMMER’S

SCOTT WILLIAMS

GAY PRIDE Parade featured a strange sight: pink-clad lesbian and gay activists carrying signs denouncing City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), the city’s highest profile gay official. The group, called the Radical Homosexual Agenda, sported signs that read, “Quinn got her pot of gold but she forgot her rainbow,” “Quinn=Hypocrite” and “Quinn cops outs,” with a doctored photo of the Council speaker wearing a police hat. The group was objecting to Quinn’s support of new parade laws that require gatherings of 50 persons or more to obtain a permit from the police department. The Radical Homosexual Agenda is admittedly a small group on the fringe of New York’s lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender activist community. But their opposition may speak to a larger disgruntlement with Quinn in the LGBT community, especially as she tries to broaden her appeal in preparation for an expected 2009 mayoral run. Meanwhile, another anticipated top contender, Comptroller William Thompson Jr. (D), has looked to consolidate strong LGBT support, as has Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn/Queens). Though she would be the first openly gay candidate to be a major mayoral canAST

Council Speaker Christine Quinn is poised to be the first openly gay mayoral contender. But other prospective candidates, including Comptroller Bill Thompson, are trying to build their appeal in the gay community as well. didate, Quinn’s lock on the gay vote seems less than certain. While she began her career as a housing advocate, Quinn early on established herself as a tireless champion for LGBT rights. This helped her catch the eye of Thomas Duane (D-Manhattan), the first open homosexual elected to the City Council, who hired her to be his first campaign manager and then chief of staff. She then led the Anti-Violence Project before returning to politics to run for Duane’s seat after he was elected to the State Senate. Quinn has continued this work in the

I Remember RUDY When... Memories of the GOP presidential front-runner before he went national year ago after the funeral of Sean Bell, Rudy Giuliani and I were in the same restaurant. He came over to offer his condolences, saying he knows it must be rough for me and for the Bell family. The sad irony to that interaction is, had Rudy Giuliani reached out like that when he was mayor, I would not be as concerned about President Giuliani. While I will leave it up to Republican voters to determine who will be their nominee (although I have offered the Republican field that I would endorse Giuliani if it would help to defeat him), I spent eight years when Giuliani was mayor raising issues relating to the racial divide in New York, and he refused to even meet about the issues. He wouldn’t meet with any African-American leaders, including the comptroller of the State of New York. Mayor Bloomberg and I do not agree on every issue, but at least his door has always been open for discussion and even heated debate. When that lesson was taught in leadership school, Rudy apparently was cutting class. —Al Sharpton Rev. Al Sharpton is the president of the National Action Network.

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Council, as when she spearheaded the passing of the Equal Benefits Law of 2004, requiring contractors with the city to give domestic partners of their employees the same benefits as spouses. The measure was vetoed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The State Supreme Court later ruled in favor of the bill. But her recent opposition to a bill that would expand services for homeless and poor people living with AIDS has angered

for me lately, what haven’t you done for me lately—will matter far less than the symbolic importance of electing an openly lesbian mayor,” Sherrill said. As for vocal opponents like the Radical Homosexual Agenda, Sherrill said they are more a part of a Gay Pride Parade tradition than a real threat to Quinn’s candidacy. “I don’t think you can have a pride parade without an organization roundly

“Where was her voice on having a bigot like Noach Dear sitting on the bench?” asked Allen Roskoff, a longtime gay rights activist. “Why was that, like, not really bothering her?” gay rights organizations and housing groups, who say she is neglecting her roots. “We fully expected when she became speaker that this was something she could easily get behind,” said Charles King, founder of Housing Works, a long-time AIDS service group. “It’s been a terrible disappointment to find that she’s actually leading the administration in opposing it.” Ken Sherrill, a political science professor at Hunter College, believes that Quinn was bound to alienate a more radical sect of the LGBT community as she broadened her appeal as speaker. This will naturally continue as she positions herself for a citywide run, Sherrill said. “I think that it may be that the substantive questions—what have you done

condemning the leadership,” he said. “I mean please, that’s as certain as go-go boys.” But Quinn’s troubles may be more than just one group. In September, she made no move to oppose the civil court candidacy of Noach Dear. Some in the gay community viewed this as a snub in deference to the Democratic establishment, which was largely backing Dear’s bid. While on the Council, Dear had riled LGBT groups by staunchly opposing a 1986 bill that expanded the city’s sex discrimination code to protect homosexuals and made statements referring to homosexuality as “deviant behavior.” “Where was her voice on having a bigot like Noach Dear sitting on the CONTINUED ON PAGE 8


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CITY HALL

ON/OFF THE RECORD BREAKFAST

Alternative Transportation and the 2009 Train R ep. Anthony Weiner (D-Brooklyn/Queens) just missed winning the Democratic nomination to face Michael Bloomberg in the 2005 mayor’s race, and he has already begun fundraising and campaigning for the 2009 race. He was the third of the expected major 2009 mayoral candidates to be a featured guest at a City Hall On/Off the Record Breakfast, speaking at the Commerce Bank flagship location on 42nd Street and Madison Avenue Nov. 13 about “Alternative Transportation and the Future of New York.” An invite-only crowd heard Weiner discuss his take on congestion pricing, ferries, what he thinks has distinguished Michael Bloomberg as mayor, what he might have done differently if he had won in 2005 and his interest in a possible Senate opening at the end of next year. Some excerpts from the on the record portion of Weiner’s interview:

Q: Would you support increasing the tolls for people coming from New Jersey or Connecticut so there would be out-of-state payments into the system? A: One of the most puzzling elements of the mayor’s proposal is that it actually hits residents of the five boroughs much harder than our suburban friends. It is kind of a wildly counter-intuitive way to deal with the imbalance that has emerged since the elimination of the commuter tax. … I had a very interesting conversation with a member of Congress from an affluent part of Connecticut, shortly after the mayor announced his plan. He’s a Republican, so I probably just gave away who it is, and I approached him on the floor of Congress and I said, “You and I should form a DemocratRepublican middle class-upper class coalition to try to stop this plan.” And he says “Tell me a little bit about it,” because he hadn’t been following it as closely as I had. And I said “Well the plan is to charge a tax of eight dollars if you come into the city,” and he thought about it for a moment, and he said “I fully support the plan.” And I said, “Why? Your constituents are going to pay eight dollars.” And he said, “My constituents would pay $80 to keep the riff-raff from your district out of their way during the day.” Q: You’ve secured federal funding for ferries. How would you want ferries to fit into the city’s public transportation system? A: One thing that’s sure is that ferries as a market driv-

Q: Back in the very first issue of City Hall that we did in 2006 we did a story called “The New Paradigm” and looked at how Bloomberg has changed the role of mayor. Do you think that he has? A: There are some things that he’s done that I hope are now going to become part of the new permanent way we do things in this city. … Now, to some degree, he’s done things in the city that no mayor in the future is going to be able to do. He’s cut arts funding, and written large checks to arts organizations. I’m not going to do that. You know, he’s a billionaire, I’m like a thousand-aire or something. I’m not going to have that ability, so I think that a lot of these groups and advocates who got used to the idea that okay, I’ll quietly take a little hit because I know that I’ll also quietly get a little bit back on the backend, that’s not going to happen with me. But to a large extent I think Mike Bloomberg has done a service to the city by making us realize, and to some degree Giuliani did this as well, that you know these notions of unsolvable problems? Baloney. We can solve problems here. ANDREW SCHWARTZ

Q: Is there a version of congestion pricing that you think might work? A: I think that the Mayor should be honored for starting the conversation. Now he got the solution wrong. But it’s not that congestion pricing as a notion is wrong. If you look at all of these cities that are eligible for federal funds, under the federal program that this has all been started under, all have congestion pricing. It’s just none of them have this type of big government, cameras on street corners, taking pictures, big administration, big bureaucracy. For example, part of what I’ve proposed is congestion pricing by increasing tolls on the bridges for trucks during certain hours dramatically, and reducing them or even eliminating them at other hours. That is a form of congestion pricing. Having parking meters that charge you more when you come in there to park there at certain times of the day than others is a form of congestion pricing. We mustn’t let the phrase “congestion pricing” mean only what the mayor’s proposal is.

tion of independence from the control that Albany and so many of these unelected boards and agencies have on us. Look at the salutary effect it’s been when the mayor pushed to get control of the Board of Ed. We shouldn’t stop there.

en business, don’t work. Mass transit is not something that the private sector does, to all of my conservative friends who talked about letting the free market solve our problems. … Give you an example: New York Waterways that lands here on the West Side. They have a pretty profitable business, bringing people back and forth, that short run from New Jersey. They go from a State of New Jersey subsidized parking lot to a state of New York subsidized parking lot. They make an okay amount of money, until they get into the New York Waterway’s buses to bring people to their offices or bring people more close to their offices in midtown and downtown. Then they are losing money hand over fist. ’Cause it’s a difficult thing to do. So what I believe is that ferries, if they are going to be successful as they have been in other cities and states, have to be part of the integrated transportation infrastructure of the city. Q: Do you think that we should push for home rule of the MTA? A: Well one of the conversations I tried to start when I ran for mayor in 2005 and I think we should continue everyday and frankly we’ve had a set back with the mayor, is we should want more of our own. You know, we’re adults and whether we’ve shown we can govern the city, it’s remarkable how much of our daily lives is either run by Albany or run by an unelected board or agency. Think of the debates, the big existential debates we’ve had in the city over the last several years: Ground Zero, Port Authority, theoretically outside the control, the stadium, had any of us even heard of that agency that finally decided the stadium wasn’t going to be built before that whole discussion? Fare hikes, congestion pricing, the Ratner project in Brooklyn. All of these we have ceded control in a different era to Albany or to unelected boards and agencies that we need to start pushing back. … We should everyday declare a declara-

Q: Other than the difference in arts funding and congestion pricing, if you had won the 2005 election and been inaugurated mayor on January 1, 2006, what would have been different? A: I’m not sure how useful it is, I’m not campaigning against Mike Bloomberg. I prefer to see this as an opportunity to look forward, we have one mayor at a time. I would have paid much more attention to Ground Zero. I would not have entered into that Faustian bargain with George Pataki, “I’ll get the stadium, you take care of Ground Zero.”I think that, that was a mistake. There are some other things. I would have paid more attention to, the waterfront, perhaps, than Mayor Bloomberg has. I would have focused on this notion of transportation, something that has been an obsession of mine, perhaps sooner. There would have been differences in the way I approached the school system. I would have, and I still think we need to, focus much more on the middle class and those who are struggling to make it into the middle class. You know the mayor once referred to New York City as a “luxury product.” Q: You have been a supporter of Hillary Clinton’s campaign for President. If she is elected there will be a Senate opening, would you, if Governor Spitzer said to you “Hey, maybe you don’t want to be mayor, maybe you want to join Chuck Schumer in the Senate” what would you say to that? A: I don’t want the job. House of Representatives is a better job than Senate and mayor is a much better job than Senate. Q: Why? A: You know I think part of where politics fails is that, at the end of the day, it does a bad job of closing the gap between the thing that people are talking about at their kitchen table in the morning when they are sending their kids off to school, and the things that they see government talking about up here. And the tension is constantly to be a representative that closes that gap. … I think it’s hard to do that as a kid from Forest Hills or Park Slope when you are talking to people in Syracuse.

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Office Space

SCOTT WILLIAMS

Robert Jackson juggles his options

BY EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE COUNCIL MEMBER ROBERT Jackson’s (D-Manhattan) goal when he ran his first marathon this year was to finish in three hours and 30 minutes. The worst he thought he would do was to finish in three hours and 40 minutes. He crossed the line in Central Park at 3:38. “I knew I would finish, but I wanted to keep my pace up so I could make my mark,” he said. With term limits set to force him off the Council in 2009, he is training and preparing for another race. He just does not know which one yet. One old friend and ally, Michael Rebell, now a professor at Columbia Teachers College who co-founded the Campaign for Fiscal Equity with Jackson in 1993, is eager to see Jackson’s political career continue, and expects him to ascend rapidly. “He’s a rare politician who’s incredibly dynamic, committed and candid,” Rebell said. “He should go places.” One office that might make the most sense, Rebell said, would be public

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advocate—an idea Jackson has lately been promoting himself. “He’d be terrific for that,” Rebell said. “He really knows how to speak out and get attention for things. He’s a very media-savvy guy.” For the Democratic primary for public advocate, one candidate—Norman Siegel— has declared his candidacy to run for a third time and another, Queens City Council Member Eric Gioia, has all but formally announced his intention to run as he sows the seeds of his candidacy and raises money furiously—as has Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who insists that he has yet to decide about running citywide in 2009. Queens City Council Member John Liu has also said he is mulling entering the race. “I know I’m already late in the game,” Jackson said. Though Jackson has filed papers for a generic campaign committee with the Campaign Finance Board, he says he has yet to raise any money. Having a late start in fundraising and campaigning, however, is something he says does not concern him—after all, he points out, then-Council Speaker Gifford Miller (D-Manhattan) raised the most money of all the 2005 Democratic mayor contenders and came in last. And Jackson himself beat all his 2001 pri-

mary opponents, despite only getting into that race in January. Jackson has been doing his best to float the prospect of a 2009 candidacy. But so far, many, like political consultant Jerry Skurnik, are not convinced, arguing that Jackson would need to quickly start putting together what he sees as a $5-million threshold to make a citywide race. Hurting Jackson as well is his lack of major visibility, Skurnik argued. “He is certainly not well known enough citywide at this point,” he said. “On the other hand, [Mayor Michael] Bloomberg was not well known enough citywide seven years ago—his strength depends on the field. If he’d be the only AfricanAmerican candidate, if so that would help him. If not, that hurts him.” More likely, Skurnik said, if Stringer does decide to run citywide and leave the borough president race open, Jackson would opt for that race. Jackson entertains that possibility as well. But there is always what Jackson calls his “back-up plan”: Assembly Member Herman “Denny” Farrell (D-Manhattan) has been open with his intentions to seek Jackson’s Council seat in 2009, initially suggesting that the two would simply swap offices—assuming he won the race for Jackson’s seat, there would be a special election for Farrell’s Assembly seat, which he assumed Jackson would win. Farrell has since backed away from suggestions that a swap was ever actually discussed. And Jackson dismissed the talk of such machinations as well. Jackson believes a special election—in which the respective major party nominees will be picked in closed processes by county committees—is an option he will be able to pursue in 2010, if 2009 does not come out in his favor. Plotting his political future keeps him busy, but so does handling a wide range of constituent requests, which on a recent day ranged from helping appeal a parking ticket to counseling staffers on how to handle a distraught constituent convinced that the police assassinated his wife.

And his leadership positions put him at the forefront of major policy debates, which may ultimately help him politically whichever race he decides to pursue. As chair of the Council education committee since the beginning of last year, Jackson has taken an even more prominent role shaping city schools, continuing in an effort he began as one of the original litigants in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) case. One of his main contentions with the way CFE has been resolved so far is the strategy to distribute money based on a five-year capital plan, which he believes cannot adequately address the needs of any of the school districts in need of new construction. Meanwhile, as co-chair of the Black, Latino & Asian Caucus, Jackson has been very involved in discussions about increasing affordable housing and other issues that affect the city’s minority communities. His role as the leader of the Council’s minority members and the policy this has gotten him involved with could be major political assets, especially if he needs to make himself known beyond his district. And in his spare time, he has been traveling frequently to the Dominican Republic, trying to help impoverished families in the heavily polluted city of Haina to help them fight lead poisoning. Working with an illustrator who lives in his district, Jackson is currently storyboarding a narrative coloring book about some of the children he has met there. They plan to use the proceeds from the book to benefit organizations which fight lead poisoning. But 2009 remains very much on his mind. Looking out at what is sure to be a hard fought Democratic primary among people he considers colleagues and friends for whichever office he might seek in 2009, Jackson proposes another running analogy. His high school track coach would often put several runners from the same team in the race. One of them, the coach hoped, would win the race. And the others would get stronger for the next race. “He’s putting in two or three runners in there,” he said. “He’s putting you, he’s putting the second best runner in there, and he’s putting people in there that he knows won’t win but need the experience.” eidovere@cityhallnews.com —With reporting by Andrew Hawkins and Elie Mystal

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ANDREW SCHWARTZ

IN THE CHAIR Striking up the Broadband

BY ELIE MYSTAL

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version of Windows in her district office, City Council member Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan) sifts between emails and PDFs while on the phone, coordinating materials for her next Broadband Taskforce meeting. As chair of the Technology in Government Committee, Brewer says she has focused her leadership efforts on bringing high-speed internet access to all New Yorkers. She believes that broadband access, or lack thereof, is the most important technological challenge facing the city. Blanketing the city with reliable internet access would help other New Yorkers do what Brewer already does herself. Though she does not use text messaging, Brewer says she is totally reliant on email for communication. “But I was actually the first person on the City Council to have a BlackBerry, she said.” Brewer believes that the age of instant communication could enhance the responsiveness of city officials to their constituents. But the politicians need to make better use of the available technology, she said. “Government is slow to respond to those who are using this technology so much,” said Brewer. “That’s a problem.” She said the latest major project to come out of her committee, CouncilStat, could be a solution. Speaker Christine Quinn’s (DManhattan) initiative to more closely link CouncilStat constituents with their Council members will track all constituent correspondence with Council members and log each interaction into a database. Brewer hopes this new database will help her office spot trends in her Upper West Side district and collaborate with other Council members whose districts are facing similar concerns. Though her committee was integral in shepherding CouncilStat through the leg-

islative process, Brewer is quick to credit Quinn as the visionary and motivation behind CouncilStat. While the initiative promises to protect constituent privacy, Brewer did have concerns that the personal information her office has compiled about constituents in her district could become public. But Brewer said she believes those concerns have been addressed. And now, with most of the preparation for the CouncilStat launch behind her, Brewer is now finalizing her newest project, a “developments blog” which will put government information about construction projects in her district online. The beta version of the website is already up on the web. But for all her interest in putting information on the internet, Brewer said she was not interested in writing a personal blog herself, on her website or elsewhere. “I don’t really want to talk about Gale Brewer all the time,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in getting information out to the public, and one way to do it is with the internet.” Getting politicians—even the other members of the Technology in Government Committee—excited about technological issues can be difficult, said Brewer. “They know that it’s something that they should be interested in, but they don’t know quite what it is,” she said, though noting that her position as chair naturally has technology more on her mind than those of her colleagues. This helps explain, Brewer said, why the Council has been slower to move on universal broadband than she would like. And she worries that having so many new Council members come in after the 2009 term limits flush may retard the progress even further. “Everybody is learning on this—the learning curve is up, up, up,” she said. “Once you learn it, and then the next person comes along, they’re going to take eight years, literally, to learn the technology.” emystal@manhattanmedia.com

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Warm Reception for the Red Beret GOP leaders welcome Curtis Sliwa’s run for public advocate and bid to transform the local party

Sliwa is critical of the city GOP for rarely running qualified candidates for citywide office other than mayor. In the 2001

and 2005 races for comptroller and public advocate, the alternatives to the Democratic ticket were from the Conservative Party and minor parties. Given the victories of Mayors Rudolph Giuliani (R) and Michael Bloomberg (Unaffil.), Sliwa believes things could be different. But Giuliani and Bloomberg, Sliwa contends, were “cults of personality,” more interested in personal success than improving the party. “They developed absolutely no bench,” Sliwa said. Central to Sliwa’s strategy to boost GOP prospects is courting AfricanAmericans and Latinos. He believes school vouchers can be used as a wedge issue to build minority enrollment in the Republican Party. “Vouchers are a winning issue in every inner city district. Republicans won’t go into inner cities because they’ll be labeled as a racist,” Sliwa said, describing his plan. “I love the inner city. I grew up there.” But former Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari (R) believes Sliwa’s idea to include minorities is a lost cause, one that Molinari knows first hand. He made the inclusion of the black community into the GOP a main goal for his second term as borough president. “The Democrats take them for granted,” Molinari said. “When I said that, I really

The comptroller’s support in the gay community stems mainly from his efforts to pressure companies that invest in the city’s pension to adopt more legal protections for LGBT employees against discrimination. Thompson also released a report in June that estimated gay marriage, if legalized, would add hundreds of millions of dollars to the city and state economies. “You would just assume that just because someone is openly gay, I guess the assumption would be that they would just get the gay vote,” said Yetta Kurland, a civil rights attorney who co-hosted Thompson’s fundraiser. “But Thompson has a lot of

support in the LGBT community.” Weiner also is a well-established favorite in the gay community. He opposed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because it left out transgender people. He is also a vocal backer of gay marriage. So while there is a potent sense of pride in the LGBT community about Quinn’s ascendancy and her acceptance by mainstream politicians, she may not be able to rely on that community as a base of votes in the 2009 election. “I think nobody can take the gay vote for granted,” Roskoff said, “especially Chris Quinn.” ahawkins@cityhallnews.com

BY DAN RIVOLI ED to run for public advocate, Guardian Angel Curtis Sliwa’s red beret was visible in Republican circles. He had his public persona as a brash political commentator, but was also a regular at Republican events and fundraisers, promoting them during his radio and television appearances. He has many friends among prominent GOP leaders. Now that the “Curtis and Kuby” show on WABC has been replaced to make room for Don Imus, Sliwa is looking to move this relationship to the next level, plotting a campaign for public advocate on a platform of abolishing the office if elected and re-energizing the local GOP. And many in the party are eager to see him take an increasingly active role in the party, as when he delivered a fiery speech to the Brooklyn Young Republicans in November which he called “a declaration of war.” Club chair Bob Catano invited Sliwa to speak at their November monthly meeting. “I though Curtis would be an ideal speaker to express his views and his ideas to grow the Republican Party in Brooklyn and New York City,” Catano said. “And sure enough, he didn’t disappoint.”

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bench?” asked Allen Roskoff, a long-time gay rights activist. “Why was that, like, not really bothering her?” While activists mull over some of Quinn’s stances, her potential rivals in 2009 have been building up their own support in the community. In September, Thompson threw a fundraiser at XES Lounge in Chelsea that was geared toward the LGBT community. The host committee included 151 names and the event attracted 120 attendees.

ANDREW SCHWARTZ

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Curtis Sliwa wants to use school vouchers as a wedge issue to build minority enrollment in the Republican Party.

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worked it, but to no avail. I had very little success.” Molinari, who encouraged Sliwa to run for office in the past, believes the GOP needs somebody like Sliwa to get out the Republican message. “He’s like a Baptist preacher,” Molinari said. “He can really turn ’em out and turn ’em on as well.” Republican consultant Bill O’Reilly said that energy will be necessary to get blacks and Hispanics on the GOP’s side. Using the school voucher issue will be key, he added. “School vouchers have consistently polled highest in minority communities and lowest income communities,” O’Reilly said. According to a survey conducted by Hunter College Big Apple Poll in 2000, 87 percent of Hispanics and 81 percent of African-Americans approved of school vouchers. “He’s worked in low income areas his whole life,” O’Reilly said. “He can be a great messenger in the Republican Party, not only in traditionally low-income communities, but in new immigrant communities.” But Sliwa said he wants to lead a GOP effort to contest races in all communities--taking a cue from the 50-State Strategy of Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean, Sliwa believes that come 2009, the GOP should run strong candidates in every race, even for deeply Democratic Council districts. He wants to open academies that educate young Republicans on the art of retail politics. “They must challenge votes in the projects, the tenements,” Sliwa said. City Council Minority Leader James Oddo (R-Staten Island), who Sliwa has fundraised for in the past, said Sliwa’s approach made sense. But Oddo believes the payoff will take a few election cycles. “You have to have candidates who are willing to take one for the team,” Oddo said. “When people see there’s life in the party, more people will come forward.” danrivoli@gmail.com

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ISSUE FORUM: CONSTRUCTION The Road to Battle

Safety on High

With another state budget battle likely looming, interest groups are using public hearings to argue for their funding. On Nov. 29, Habit for Humanity lobbied the state Division of the Budget to create a Housing Investment Fund, an initiative they hope will spur construction of affordable housing throughout New York. Asking for a $100-million earmark for the program, Habitat for Humanity executive director Josh Lockwood argued that the proposed investment fund would also stimulate the economy through new job creation and property taxes.

New York’s bravest have a new ally for fighting fires, unionized construction companies. The Building Trades Employer’s Association (BTEA) announced the creation of the Fire Safety Advisory Council, a coalition with the FDNY that will develop new ways to make city construction sites safer for workers and the public. The first recommendation from the advisory council requires buildings taller than 14 stories to submit their construction or demolition plans to the FDNY for review. The council’s proposals will

cover the roughly 1,200 companies BTEA represents.

A Shoulder to Cry On The Center for New York City Neighborhoods (CNYCN), a new nonprofit organization, represents the city’s first attempt to aide homeowners affected by the sub-prime mortgage crisis. The center, which can be accessed by dialing 311, will provide information and counseling about available legal and financial options. The center will not provide bailouts or financial assistance to residents who are

facing foreclosure on their homes, or have lost them already. Mayor Michael Bloomberg (Unaff.) and Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), who jointly announced the creation of CNYCN on Dec. 5, hope that nearly half of the center’s proposed $5.3-million budget will come from philanthropic contributions. CNYCN is projected to guide 18,000 New Yorkers annually in their dealings with the mortgage industry.

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—Elie Mystal emystal@manhattanmedia.com


CITY HALL

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DECEMBER 2007

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ISSUE FORUM: CONSTRUCTION

Keep Building the City—But Build It Intelligently BY STATE SENATOR LIZ KRUEGER CITY ’ S CURRENT WAY OF dealing with development is by not dealing with development. Therefore, with everyone wanting to build here, it often feels like we’re all trying to balance on the head of a pin. With the current housing stock not even meeting current needs—and with

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too few affordable and/or crumbling units—the planning process must shift dramatically to meet growth expectations.

Affordable Housing I question the city’s understanding of what “affordable” means. When we’re talking about “affordable,” let’s not forget that the median family income in New York City is $43,434.

In my opinion, mixed-income development is the answer, and inclusionary zoning is one important model. The city’s planning theory of defaulting to highest value land use has worked against such development being a priority. By focusing on the market instead of actual need, many units meant for low- and moderate- income families have disappeared somewhere between the drawing board and construc-

tion. Queens West has joined the growing list of historic opportunities that may soon be lost; 5,000 units once meant for low to moderate income families will now be affordable to only those who make $60,000 to $145,000 annually, even though the median family income of the area is $45,000.

Community Participation in Planning The city’s development model is in direct competition with quality of life issues facing residents. On Manhattan’s East Side, a new high-rise is being built on nearly every block. Yet, daily fights occur over the most basic community needs, like adequate school space and transportation options for current and future residents. Neither the City Planning, Environmental Impact, or Uniform Land Use Review Procedure processes thoroughly evaluate population and development effects on our infrastructure. Local participation in vetting development impacts on the character of unique communities is a failure, and while Community Boards have an “advisory” role, their advice is often ignored.

Enforcement

Ironworker District Council of New York State 914.332.4430

The open disregard for existing laws is reminiscent of the Wild West, not the City of New York. The Department of Buildings and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development have not been provided the resources or the mandate to keep lawless developers from skirting construction, zoning and housing maintenance laws. As affordable housing stock in the outer boroughs disappears out from under our feet, McMansions pop up like Starbucks. When scofflaws laugh about the petty cash penalty when they’re caught, we know we have a problem. Since the Giuliani administration, the city has given a free pass to developers in the form of do-it-yourself-regulation or self-certification. There is a clear pattern of abuse—even those entities with histories of lawlessness are allowed to continue self-certification. Meeting the city’s current and future needs will require a commitment to housing New Yorkers can actually afford, a new role for local communities in the planning process and a recognition of the critical role city agencies must play in beefing up enforcement of construction, zoning and building maintenance laws.

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Liz Krueger is a Democrat representing parts of Manhattan. She is the ranking member of the State Senate Standing Committee on Housing, Construction, and Community Development.


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COMING

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JANUARY:

ISSUE FORUM:

LOCAL 376 Municipal Employees Maintaining NYC’s Infrastructure

ENERGY

ISSUE FORUM:

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Highway Repairers Perform milling and paving operations and aggressively repair street defects, highway guard rail chain link fences and many other arterial road works.

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Construction Laborers Repair broken water mains and leaking water services by replacing and repairing hydrants, drainage interiors, shores and escavates their jobs.

Watershed Maintainers We regulate and purify the water into the New York regions—upstate and downstate.

Local 376 members support amending the NYC administrative code in relation to residency, Intro. 452, for municipal employees not yet included and we urge changing it now. Having the freedom to live in the homes we choose, and obtain the jobs from wherever one lives, is the American dream and the American way. President: Gene DeMartino Secretary Treasurer: Thomas Kattou


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CITY HALL

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DECE MB E R 2007

ISSUE FORUM: CONSTRUCTION

Building a Greener, More Efficient New York BY COUNCIL MEMBER ERIK MARTIN DILAN NEW YORK CITY AND THE surrounding region continue to grow, so too will the pressure on our infrastructure. This adds to the importance of “green” initiatives and a clean, reliable energy supply to ensure we are using our resources as efficiently as possible. According to PlaNYC, over the coming 22 years, New York City must grow to meet future demand by adding an estimated 65 million square feet of commercial space. At least five million square feet of this projected growth will take place in Brooklyn. By 2030, the city will have 1 million more residents, keeping the professionals of the building trades busy building apartments to meet the housing demand. From this growth, vast new opportunities for New Yorkers will present themselves, with the construction boom spurring additional economic development and thousands of well paying union jobs created—all of which will make New York City a better place to live and work. There is another side that we must take into account—the need to ensure that this construction is based on the latest, green

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and efficient building technologies, and guarantee that we have a reliable, clean and cost-effective energy supply. In November, I met with Brooklyn community leaders and with the Co-Founder of Greenpeace, Dr. Patrick Moore—who is an advisor to the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance—to present a $9-million grant to Enterprise Community Investment for an important Green Buildings project. This grant comes through the efforts of the City Council led by Speaker Christine Quinn. These funds will enable energy efficiency upgrades for existing affordable housing units throughout the city, helping make our older buildings more energy and environmentally friendly. Specifically, the funds—$3 million for the next three years—will go toward insulation, low water use toilets and ventilation systems that can reduce respiratory illnesses by 1020 percent. While many talk about energy efficiency, the Council is taking action. The grant is a symbol of innovation for creating energy-efficient and environmentally friendly homes, something we would be wise to expand citywide. The initial beneficiaries of the grant will

be low- and moderateincome residents, who consistently struggle with the high cost of energy and heating. In the long term, our entire city will benefit from these efficiencies and the reduction of greenhouse gas. I ask you, where will the electricity come from to meet the massive energy demands to power 65 million new square feet of commercial space, two new baseball stadiums and one Brooklyn basketball arena, plus hundreds of thousands of new apartments? Furthermore, in a city where operational power plants date back as far as 1941, and run on pre-World War II energy technology, we must be mindful of guaranteeing there is an ample supply of affordable, reliable and clean electricity to keep New York operating around the clock. It’s important that we continually reexamine the city’s infrastructure needs, upgrading our city streets and water supply, sewers, sanitation and recycling programs. The use of power energy is clearly one of the key starting points.

Dec. 31 will be the fifth anniversary of the expiration of New York State’s Article X power plant siting law. Since it is essentially illegal to site a power plant in New York State at this time, conservation is our only option. It was Moore who stated that “while conservation and efficiency are vital, we need to look more at developing and reinvesting in the region’s supply of clean, efficient and non-greenhouse emitting energy sources.” This means the clean energy that already powers our subways, schools, hospitals and billions of square feet of existing commercial and residential space. With efficiency, conservation, smart building strategies and a sharp eye toward investing in the needs of our city in 2010 and going forward, we can insure New York will retain its status as a world class city.

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Erik Martin Dilan is a Democrat representing parts of Brooklyn. He is the chair of the City Council Housing & Buildings Committee.

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CITY HALL

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ISSUE FORUM: CONSTRUCTION

The Reconstructed Buildings Department is Good News for New York BY COMMISSIONER PATRICIA LANCASTER

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HIS IS A STORY ABOUT AN AGENCY

once suffocating under its own weight of inefficiency and neglect, about a team’s will, skill and dedication to achieve the reform our mayor envisioned, and about a fundamental, philosophical change in how to properly regulate the construction industry, facilitate compliant development and ensure safety for workers and residents. This year was marked by fundamental transition at the Buildings Department, as our 150-year-old agency proved it could transform itself from an antiquated, reactive organization into a more proactive, capable organization responsive to the needs of the public it serves. This modernization became possible because we spent five years building a foundation of managerial talent and reform based upon the principles of integrity, accessibility and accountability. The agency our team inherited was in total and complete disarray. If it weren’t so tragic for the taxpayers who supported it and the New Yorkers who depended upon it, its condition could have been darkly comical. For example, without explanation, the Staten Island Borough Office computers shut down when it rained, if they hadn’t already inexplicably crashed at 3:00 p.m. each day. It was so hard to obtain an appointment with a plan examiner that customers lined up at the Queens Borough Office at 4:00 a.m.— and scalpers orchestrated bidding wars to auction off those meetings. There were countless boxes of decades-old documents secretly hidden above office ceilings. The perception of corruption was rampant. We quickly learned virtually every problem we uncovered shared a common denominator: complete lack of transparency in our systems. Reviewing construction files for simple neighborhood development information required a lost day at the department, if the permits and plans were even in the proper folders. Accountability simply didn’t exist, to the detriment of customers who demanded service and residents who needed information. Even the fundamental bible for construction in New York City—our building code—was decades old, convoluted, contradictory and confusing. By opening our doors wide open—to the public, the industry and the Department of Investigation to rout out the bad apples—we were for the first

time empowered to move toward a proactive enforcement and service model. We’re now better empowered to send the strong message to repeat offenders of the Building Code and Zoning Resolution: enough is enough. Our new, proactive enforcement paradigm means scofflaws must beware and behave—and we are watching. We have also empowered the public to watch by improvements to the Building Information System and launching B-Scan, which puts virtually all construction documents on the web for 24hour public access. During this past year, we have launched and expanded numerous new programs geared toward increased enforcement. For example, this past summer, the mayor allocated $6 million to create and implement our Special Enforcement Plan, comprised of specialized teams that search for areas prone to abuse in development, find networks of repeat offenders and build cases against them. In fact, we now have 50 new cases underway. In addition, our Stop Work Order Patrol partners buildings inspectors with Department of Finance sheriffs to keep people from violating their Stop Work Orders—and prevent them from working until they address their violations and pay their fines. Also, our Scaffold Safety Team proactively sweeps construction sites to make sure scaffold workers are using proper safety equipment and procedures and will go home to their families at night. The stakes are high for our agency to respond to the city’s need for improved construction regulation. We risk the safety of our construction workers, neighbors and passers-by. We risk damaging the economy of our city by delaying and increasing the cost of building and renovating affordable housing, schools and the critical infrastructure that keep our neighborhoods viable and vital. With New York City remaining in an unprecedented and sustained construction boom—construction spending is estimated to reach $83 billion between 2007 and 2009—we owe it to all New Yorkers to perform even better. We know that much work still lies ahead for the Buildings Department. I’m deeply gratified that thanks to our dedicated team, we’re now poised to meet our challenges, and perhaps even surpass them.

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Patricia Lancaster, FAIA is Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Commissioner of the New York City Department of Buildings.

DECEMBER 2007

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But today, Doctoroff is on the rooftop, the yards and the rest of the 33 acres he views as Manhattan’s final development frontier stretched out below him. He traces the buildings to be with his finger, describing what would be in place by 2013, a year after what would have been the closing ceremonies on the site had his Olympic dream come true. “In six years, you’ll have the whole thing basically decked over on both sides,” he says. “The FedEx building will be gone. There’ll be a boulevard between 10th and 11th that extends up between 33rd and 36th streets. I believe you’ll have a hotel that will be across the street from Javits.” He continues across the imaginary skyline.

childhood in suburban Detroit, an education at Harvard and the University of Chicago Law School, a professional career in finance, a fortune made in investment— these are hardly the expected credentials of a New York City planner. “I’m not sure I felt unqualified,” Doctoroff says of his first year on the job. “I didn’t know how to get things done. That had to be completely learned from scratch.” The adjustment period was not easy, he admits. “What I did feel for a long time was

A ANDREW SCHWARTZ

He traces the buildings to be with his finger, describing what will be in place by 2013, a year after what would have been the closing ceremonies on the site had his Olympic dream come true.

“The High Line will be done,” Doctoroff says, his finger now trundling along the grass strewn elevated train track that makes up the southern edge of the yards. “Maybe you’ll have construction underway—I don’t know how much—on the western rail yards. We’ll be pretty far along actually. I’d say the eastern rail yards will be landscaped. Javits, whatever renovation and expansion needs to be done, by 2013. The subway will be open.” In five years, the Olympics were supposed to have descended on New York. Instead, a far different vision will come to pass on Manhattan’s dormant West Side. “We’ve never done anything like this before,” Doctoroff says, his arms crossed, the wind chopping at his sixfoot-two frame. He speaks confidently about the planned development, but his mind appears to be elsewhere. Doctoroff’s first pass at the West Side ended in disaster. Bloomberg hired him as his fifth and final deputy mayor largely based on his credentials as head of NYC2012, a non-profit authorized by the city to compete for the Olympic bid. Doctoroff parlayed a stint at Lehman Brothers into a partnership at Oak Hill Capital, where he made millions. He put up $4 million of his own cash for his Olympic dream. He crafted what he thought was a winning sales pitch. But the $1.4-billion stadium plan faced a stiff and diverse opposition. Community groups, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), the police union, the New York Yankees and Cablevision, which owns Madison Square Garden, all vehemently opposed Doctoroff's plan. Then Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) voted to block the plan in the Public Authorities Control Board. Doctoroff still believes the opposition was rooted very much in misunderstanding, for which he takes responsibility. “The stadium, which we really viewed much more as an extension of the convention center, we never managed to convey that very effectively,” Doctoroff now says. Doctoroff now puts a smiling face on the debacle. Aspects of the original plan are still in place, he says, and moving steadily forward, including the extension of the No. 7 line, the Javits expansion, the rezoning for millions of square feet in new residential and commercial space and the investment in infrastructure, including parks and open space. The defeat was huge and highly visible, he admits. But the city had a safety

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Robert Harding, who held much of Doctoroff’s portfolio in the administration of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (R), carried the title deputy mayor for economic development and finance. Doctoroff’s title was amended to include rebuilding because Lower Manhattan needed to be rebuilt. The city unveiled its plans for Ground Zero to a resounding Bronx cheer in 2002. The plan was too dense and too lacking in respect for the victims, critics said. Doctoroff went back to the drawing board. Years passed and the hole in Lower Manhattan remained unfilled. Doctoroff blames the lack of progress on too many cooks in the kitchen. The city, the state, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the Port Authority, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority the State Department of Transportation, Battery Park City and the victims’ families all had competing interests and all needed to be heard. “Other than the fact that it was in New York City, we had virtually no real authority at all,” he argues. His critics blame him for mismanagement, and fault the Bloomberg administration for ceding too much of the control over the area to Gov. Pataki (R). Notably, the only development news coming out of Ground Zero of late has been the continuing debates over the Freedom Tower design, the laying and then removing of a cornerstone for the building and the two firefighters who died in the August Deutsche Bank building blaze. Rather than being about construction, the news out of Ground Zero is about construction problems and a building that nearly everyone agrees should have been demolished long ago. “The owners of the [Deutsche Bank] building,” Doctoroff now says, “didn’t want to cooperate.”

One Last Look Dan Doctoroff’s vision. Instead, Manhattan’s far West Side looks much the same as it did before Doctoroff became Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s (Unaff.) deputy mayor for economic development and rebuilding six years ago. The Javits Center is there, yet to be renovated, although plans are underway. The rail yards are there too, uncovered and gleaming in the cold December sun. Four days before he will announce his resignation, Doctoroff stands in the piercing wind on a rooftop, surveying what he will soon leave behind. Not that he will be going far—he will move from being Bloomberg’s point man on economic development to the president of Bloomberg LP, the mayor’s financial news company. He will also retain his chairmanship of the Hudson Yards Development Corporation as well as continue to play a role in the development of Queens West and the implementation of PlaNYC.

DECE M B E R 2007

Even after leaving the Bloomberg administration, Dan Doctoroff plans to remain active in shaping the future of the Hudson Yards. net built in to allow a majority of the projects tied to the Olympics to go forward in case the bid was defeated. “We still focused on Flushing,” he says. “We still focused on Fresh Kills. Downtown Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Waterfront. The West Side. Willets Point. Up in Harlem. The areas that we picked for Olympic focus, we didn’t stop just because we didn’t win the Olympics.” “In fact,” Doctoroff adds, with his characteristic optimism and fondness for phrases that sound like talking points, “in many ways it just encouraged us to move faster and more aggressively.”

ver the last six years, New York has experienced its biggest residential and commercial construction boom in three decades. Larger-than-life building projects dot the landscape. And the boom is anticipated to only get bigger. Construction spending in the city will reach $83 billion between 2007 and 2009, the New York Building Congress, an industry group, predicted in October. For Doctoroff, re-zoning became a tool to transform the physical look of New York. During his six years, he oversaw 78 re-zonings covering more than 6,000 city blocks.

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Starting up north in the Bronx, a new Yankee Stadium is being built adjacent to the old one. In the stadium’s shadow will be the Bronx Terminal Market, 18 acres and a million new square feet of retail space that Doctoroff believes will reshape the South Bronx “in ways that are staggering.” Across the Harlem River in Upper Manhattan, Columbia University’s massive and controversial expansion is beginning, with the City Planning Board’s recent approval putting the university on track to expand its campus 17 acres into Harlem. Skirting the island’s west side brings one to the Hudson Yards as well as the planned site for Moynihan Station, while on the opposite side of Manhattan, plans are underway to construct a $700million commercial bioscience facility.

Over the East River, cranes and construction equipment have sprung up all over Long Island City in Queens, while to the southeast Jamaica is beginning to see

Yards project, controversial in its use of eminent domain, will produce a staggering 16 new Frank Gehry buildings and an 18,000-seat basketball arena.

“What I did feel for a long time was totally underwater,” Doctoroff says. “The image that kept coming to mind was being submerged, occasionally popping to the surface to get a quick gasp of air, and then being pushed right back down again. I felt that probably for the first year.” a number of new housing and commercial real estate go up. Back west in Brooklyn, the downtown is adding 12,000 new units of housing. And the Atlantic

A short trip over the Brooklyn Bridge brings you back to Manhattan. Turn south and you will stand at the edge of the gaping hole in Doctoroff’s legacy—Ground Zero.

totally underwater,” says Doctoroff. “The image that kept coming to mind was being submerged, occasionally popping to the surface to get a quick gasp of air and then


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DECE MB E R 2007

being pushed right back down again. I felt that probably for the first year.” Doctoroff has skimmed The Power Broker, Robert Caro’s 1,344 page account of Robert Moses’ time as master builder in New York. There are lessons to be learned about community input, about displacing people and about inclusiveness, he says. He added that he learned them through counterexample. One statistic he is fond of quoting: 200,000 people were relocated by Moses, while only 400 residents and 700 businesses will have been relocated by Doctoroff. “Moses frequently went where people were,” he says. “We’ve gone where people aren’t.” Now that he has made his longrumored plans to leave known, Doctoroff can focus on how he will be remembered. Second only to Bloomberg, he was arguably the most powerful administrator in post-Sept. 11 New York. He weathered a string of defeats and oversaw a vast transformation of the city landscape. If he has his way, PlaNYC, the longterm sustainability blueprint, will be his legacy—though some believe he fumbled negotiations with state leaders this spring, leading to the delay and possible demise of congestion pricing. Since the plan was unveiled last April, Doctoroff has ping-ponged across the city, hyping PlaNYC to a variety of constituent groups. His speech, which he says he must have given over 50 times, is laced with towering pronouncements about wanting the cleanest air, the most efficient subways, the greenest parks and the healthiest citizens.

ANDREW SCHWARTZ

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg often deferred to Doctoroff on development. tion,” Doctoroff says, smiling. Then he answers. “Absolutely not,” he says. Talk of Doctoroff as a potential Bloomberg successor, once strong, has faded of late—perhaps as a reflection of some of his high profile setbacks, perhaps because of his adamant denials (though Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has not succeeded in quashing the discussion about his own candidacy with his insistence that he does not want to run). But with Doctoroff’s resignation, the speculation may finally be put fully to rest. He says he first began discussing his departure with Bloomberg around three years ago, right when the Olympics bid

“Cities go in one of two directions,” Doctoroff says. “They go up or they go down. It’s like companies. It’s same thing.” If New York fails to move forward, especially in the face of global competition from London, Dubai, Singapore and others, the city will have real problems, he says. After the last PlaNYC speech he delivered before announcing his departure, given to the New York City School Construction Authority Dec. 3, he allows a couple questions. Almost immediately, a man shouts from the front row, “Are you going to run for mayor?” The crowd laughs and applauds. “I’m almost afraid to repeat the ques-

CITY HALL and the stadium deal started going south. Four days before his resignation announcement, in his last official public act as deputy mayor, Doctoroff stands in the Times Square subway station in front of a bank of reporters and flashing cameras. He is flanked by Bloomberg, Gov. Spitzer (D), and other top elected and appointed officials. They are “breaking ground” on the No. 7 subway extension—though unlike the Second Avenue Subway groundbreaking in April, when Doctoroff and some of the others present took pickaxes to concrete in an underground tunnel, today they simply pull a blue drape from a new sign pointing west on the No. 7. Quinn, his former foe during the stadium war, thanks Doctoroff for his respectful treatment of her constituents on the Hudson Yards deal. Bloomberg calls him a “visionary” who has “done so much for this city.” During the question and answer session, the mayor defers the first question—about a proposed station at 41st Street and Tenth Avenue—to Doctoroff. The station was never part of the plan, Doctoroff says. The next question is about cost overruns. “Let me take that one too,” Doctoroff says, slipping seamlessly between the mayor and the microphones. A third question is prefaced as “one that Dan Doctoroff hopefully can’t answer.” “Uh oh,” Bloomberg says. “Now we’re in trouble.” Doctoroff’s resignation is effective Dec. 31, 2007 . ahawkins@cityhallnews.com

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IMAGEMAKERS

New Prospects for Glover Park BY ANDREW J. HAWKINS

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HOUGH

THEY

MAY

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doing much consulting anymore, the New York members of Glover Park still have politics in their blood. Glover Park opened its first office in Washington, D.C. in 2002. Clinton veterans Gigi Georges and Howard Wolfson opened the New York office a year later. Since those first hectic days, the group has picked up dozens of high-profile clients, from politicians to unions to corporations. The firm specializes in public relations, strategic communications, advertising and research. Depending on each client’s needs, they serve as spinmasters, strategists

and advisors. “We run deep with our clients,” Georges said. But now Glover Park is looking to distance itself from the political world. The firm has severed official ties with the presidential campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D), once one of their most prominent clients. Wolfson, now a Clinton campaign advisor, is on an extended leave of absence, and though he has an office in the firm’s new space, which opened in October, he has never been there. Boxes of files moved from their old location serve as a “memorial” to his tenure at the firm, said Molly Watkins, a vice president at the firm.

DANIEL S. BURNSTEIN

Without Clinton as a client and with Wolfson on leave, firm stakes out new, non-political identity

The members of Glover Park may have cut official ties with Sen. Hillary Clinton, but they are still eager to be involved politically. “We miss him personally,” said Watkins. “He’s very dedicated to the campaign and it made the most sense for the campaign and for Howard and the firm to just make the break.”

Georges served as the state director for Sen. Clinton and as a domestic policy advisor in the administration of President Bill Clinton. She ran governCONTINUED ON PAGE

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Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade

Celebrates 55 Years of Advocacy on Behalf of the New York City Taxi Industry Ron Sherman, President Jean Barrett, Executive Director Joseph Giannetto, Director of Business Development

MTBOT is proud to enter its 55th year stronger than ever. We are 28 fleets located in Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx and represent more than 25% of the industry with over 14,000 drivers. Our mission: • advocate for the safety and comfort of 1 million daily taxi riders • advocate for fleet operators who ensure essential 24/7 taxi service • provide opportunities and full-service work environments for taxi drivers as well as assistance at every level from expedited licensing to operating as knowledgeable, courteous professionals

ADVOCATING FOR A SAFE AND COMFORTABLE TAXI RIDE Safety and comfort continues to be our highest priority, which is why we are working with the TLC to make safety the # 1 issue in the search for the next generation of taxicabs. MTBOT fleets have tested or operated a broad range of vehicles including Compressed Natural Gas taxis, minivans and hybrids and we helped get Ford to invest further in the 5-star crash rated Crown Victoria by adding 6 extra inches of backseat legroom.

EXPANDING YELLOW TAXI SERVICE OUTSIDE MANHATTAN MTBOT partnered with City Council Transportation Chair John Liu in 2003 to create the first fully dispatched and privately funded yellow taxi stand outside of Manhattan and the airports. A tremendous success, it continues to thrive today.

PROVIDING JOB OPPORTUNITIES FOR WELFARE RECIPIENTS MTBOT partnered with the Bloomberg Administration to provide guidance, resources and taxi school and licensing fee scholarships to welfare recipients who wanted a steady, flexible job and a better life for their families.

FUNDING TAXI DRIVER SCHOLARSHIPS FOR WOMEN AND HISPANICS MTBOT partnered with the HANAC Taxi Academy to recruit women and Hispanics to the taxi driving profession, providing taxi school and licensing scholarships.


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DECE MB E R 2007

Wearing Many Hats, Pursuing One Mission Norman Seabrook says his various appointments work well with his job as Correction Officers president BY DAN RIVOLI S PRESIDENT OF THE NEW YORK

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career. He was the only labor leader to endorse Michael Bloomberg (R) for mayor in 2001. Seabrook made the endorsement when Mark Green, the Democratic nominee, was ahead in the polls. In the 2008 presidential race he is again going against the grain, as one of the few prominent labor leaders in New York to endorse Illinois Sen. Barack Obama (D) in the presidential race over Sen. Hillary Clinton (D). Seabrook said his work ethic lets him focus on how fair labor contracts benefit the average person. One of his goals in bargaining for correctional officers was to show the public that these men and women should have equal benefits to protect the average citizen. He believes his obligation is to keep the public’s needs in

mind when discussing labor issues. “We need to be able to have the men and women receive the benefits they so rightfully deserve, the public receive the services they are paying for and management has to be able to understand both sides of that equation,” he said. Yet Seabrook does not see himself as an arbitrator between labor and management, nor as an ombudsman for the public in labor disputes. He fills a different role, he believes. Without having to worry about wooing voters and not receiving a salary for his government appointments, Seabrook calls himself an altruistic advocate. “I only see myself,” he said, “as a labor leader that’s trying to do the right thing.” danrivoli@gmail.com

at the firm, who brings corporate and financial expertise to Glover Park, having served as an analyst at Kekst and Company. “We continue to love to be involved in political campaign work,” said Georges, “but we also want to do it on a more limited basis for candidates that we really feel are a good fit with us.” Presently, though the very politically active United Federation of Teachers is a client, City Council Member Melinda Katz (D-Queens) the only candidate to have retained Glover Park. They are her consultants for fundraising and communications. “They really work as a team,” said Katz, who is running for comptroller in 2009. “It’s a very good shidduch,” she added, using the Hebrew word for “match.” When they do take on political

clients—like Clinton, Lt. Gov. David Paterson (D), Comptroller William Thompson (D) and others—they begin by developing the candidates’ platform and core messages. “Just from a start,” said Kaufman, “this is who you are, this is your background, this is the kind of candidate you want to be, the kind of public servant you want to be. Literally from ‘I want to run for office’ to ‘At the end of my two terms this is the story I want told.’” The members’ long political résumés come in handy often, Kaufman said. In November, the firm was working to put together a presidential forum on renewable energy, looking to get all the presidential candidates involved. Kaufman began working his connections. “The fact I can pick up the phone,” said Kaufman, “and I can talk to my for-

mer colleagues and I can talk to my friends at the [John] Edwards campaign, and Molly was able to reach to talk to friends she’s worked with in D.C., helps us be more effective for our clients.” Presently, the firm is busy helping clients refine their stances on longterm care, education and reproductive issues. But the days of Glover Park advising campaigns may not be coming to a close quite yet: many at the firm are eager to get involved, perhaps with some of the other candidates running in 2009. But, they say, they will only pick up new clients if they feel they can devote enough energy to the campaigns. “We’re actually quite busy now,” Georges said. “It’s hard to see how it could get busier.” ahawkins@cityhallnews.com

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Glover CONTINUED FROM PAGE 18

mental relations for two different teachers’ unions and was the executive director for the New York State Democratic Committee. Watkins handled communications for the New York City Campaign Finance Board before coming to Glover Park. The firm’s other vice president, Peter Kaufman, was Sen. Clinton’s press secretary before joining the Navy as an intelligence officer in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. Kay Sarlin, Glover Park’s New York office director, was most recently Rep. Anthony Weiner’s (D-Brooklyn/Queens) chief of staff and before that spokesperson for the Department of Transportation. Then there is Blake Kohn, an associate

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City Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association, Norman Seabrook helped push several bills through the State Legislature. As an influential voice in the labor movement, Seabrook negotiated prescription drug prices with the Municipal Labor Committee. As a Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) board member, he recently spoke out against a proposed fair hike. “I don’t see any conflict in what I do,” Seabrook said. “When you’re righteous, you’re righteous.” Seabrook, a 47-yearold South Bronx native, said he tried to look out for the interest of the city’s low- and middleincome men and women at the MTA and in his union activities. This sometimes put Seabrook at odds with his MTA colleagues, as has opposition to a proposed fare hike. “I, as a representative of my constituency, am not going to sit there and just arbitrarily agree to an increase because everybody else in the room says so,” he said. “If they thought I was going to rubber stamp something because they said so, they’re seriously mistaken.” Seabrook said he was the lone dissenter to the fare hike on the board of directors. He felt a fare hike would hurt the average commuter. “They can come up with a way to keep the cost of increases off the backs of the people who don’t make enough money as it is,” he said. Seabrook started in the labor movement with a concern for workers who do not receive equal benefits and salaries.

After the start of his first term as Correction Officers’ president in 1995, Seabrook set out to raise the public profile of the city’s correction officers, an overlooked group that did not have the same benefits as their fellow law enforcement officers. “Correction officers patrol the toughest precincts in New York: the city jails, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said. Seabrook, who was re-elected twice, has since become an advocate throughout the labor movement. Under former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (R), Seabrook chaired the Uniformed Forces Coalition, an umbrella organization of 12 uniformed officers unions. His extensive union activities got him attention from unexpected quarters, and in 2002, President George W. Bush (R) appointed him to a presidential commission to improve customer service in the United States Postal Service. “If people look at my comments at the back of the presidential commission report, I formulated my own opinion,” Seabrook said. “If anyone knows that I am not a yes man, it’s certainly the president of the United States.” To Seabrook, the same can be said for former Gov. George Pataki (R). Before Pataki appointed Seabrook to the MTA’s board of directors, the governor also selected him to join a bipartisan task force for election reform. “I bring straightforward convictions of what I believe is important for the jobs that I’ve been appointed to do,” Seabrook said. These convictions led Seabrook to back candidates who could have hurt his

IONS

Correction Officers’ President Norman Seabrook does not see himself as an arbitrator between labor and management, nor as an ombudsman for the public in labor disputes.

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22

CITY HALL

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S T E H P S O C R I P YCH Y C & I S L P m o fr e PO L A th C I T I L PO With a likely New York-centric presidential race gripping the nation, the control of the State Senate majority and the fate of the governor’s attempt to recover gripping the state, and the impending watershed elections of 2009 gripping the city, 2008 is sure to be a crazy year in politics. City Hall asked the pollsters, pundits, and political professionals what to expect.

Kevin Wardally Director of Political and Governmental Operations, Bill Lynch Associates What do you see happening in New York politics in 2008?

State Senate Democrats will win control of the State Senate in 2008.They’ll pick up two or more seats. What will be the surprise political story of 2008?

Rudolph Giuliani will not do as well as everybody thinks he will do. Giuliani will fall flat. What will the presidential tickets be?

Clinton/Richardson For the Republicans—You’d have to be a swami on that one.You can’t even make an educated guess. There is no rhyme or reason to that one. I could throw darts at the wind and that would be as scientific as anything else. What will the final results be?

Clinton: 53 percent to 47 percent. What would be the book title to describe New York politics in 2008?

Ambition Without Limits

Ed Koch Former Mayor What do you see happening in New York politics in 2008?

I see Eliot Spitzer recovering from a lousy first year and going to new heights. What will be the surprise political story of 2008?

The Democrats will elect a veto-proof Congress, but they won’t need it. What will the presidential tickets be?

Clinton/Jim Webb Romney/Huckabee What will the final results be?

Clinton: 53 percent to 47 percent What would be the book title to describe New York politics in 2008?

Mish-mash

David Seifman City Hall Bureau Chief, The New York Post What do you see happening in New York politics in 2008?

Out of the 36 or so City Council members who are term limited for ’09, all of those who haven’t already announced will be running for public advocate. … What have they got to lose at this point? What will be the surprise political story of 2008?

If Bloomberg doesn’t run for president, for the next two years everyone will be speculating about what he will do aside from running the foundation. What will the presidential tickets be?

Anything is possible. Clinton The Republican field is so fluid, I’m not sure we’re going to have a Republican nominee in January, February or March. I have no idea who the V.P. will be. What will the final results be?

Since I’m not really sure who the candidates are going to be, it is hard to say. But with the economy going the way it is and Iraq still unresolved, the bias has to be in favor of the Democrat. What would be the book title to describe New York politics in 2008?

A Tale of Two Houses.


CITY HALL

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DECEMBER 2007

23

Norman Adler Political Consultant, Bolton St. Johns What do you see happening in New York politics in 2008?

Very little will be accomplished in terms of law making at the state level, because of a continuing lack of communication among the top leadership at the state level. The City Council will pass many more resolutions than it has ever before, in preparation for ’09 elections and term limits. What will be the surprise political story of 2008?

There will be changes in the senior staffing in the state executive branch. There will be an unexpected fourth candidate that will appear for mayor.

Gerson Borrero Columnist, El Diario/La Prensa What do you see happening in New York politics in 2008?

Support for Hillary Rodham Clinton will lose considerable ground in the Latino and African-American communities. … Rumblings from Herman Badillo and Tom Ognibene about seeking the Republican mayoral nomination.

What will the presidential tickets be?

I never forecast V.P. because I have been wrong every single time since 1960. Clinton Giuliani Mike Bloomberg is way too smart to run as an independent. What will the final results be?

Clinton will win. I won’t predict percentages. If we went on percentages there would be a different man in the White House now. I will say that several states that should have been blue all along are going to wind up blue. West Virginia, and probably Ohio as well. We’re not going to have to wait a month to find out who the president will be. What would be the book title to describe New York politics in 2008?

I would steal the title. Showdown at the O.K. Corral.

What will be the surprise political story of 2008?

There will be two, and I don’t know which will come first: 1.) Rudy Giuliani drops out of the presidential race claiming health reasons after loosing initial primaries. 2.) Miguelito Bloomberg jumps into the presidential swamp in March as an independent with an initial war chest of 500 million dollars. What will the presidential tickets be?

John Edwards/Barack Obama Mike Huckabee/John McCain Miguelito Bloomberg/Arnold Schwarzenegger What will be the final results?

Republicans remain in the White House What would be the book title to describe New York politics in 2008?

They Escaped from the Zoo and Wound Up in Rikers.

John Faso Former Assembly Minority Leader; comptroller and gubernatorial candidate What do you see happening in New York politics in 2008?

There will be very interesting campaigns, especially if Giuliani and Clinton are running against each other. There are going to be hard fought races for the State Senate and for Congress What will be the surprise political story of 2008?

I think it’s probably not a surprise, but I think it’s the rise of the independent voter. What will the presidential tickets be?

Giuliani/someone from the South or Midwest Clinton/someone from the South or Midwest What will the final results be?

Rudy has a very good chance of being elected. In a close election. What would be the book title to describe New York politics in 2008?

Day 730: Everything Changes.

Hank Sheinkopf Democratic political consultant What do you see happening in New York politics in 2008?

You can’t predict things that you can’t predict. It is unclear on who wins or loses the State Senate. Anybody who can predict that today should go see a psychiatrist. What will be the surprise political story of 2008?

I don’t think there’s going to be a big budget battle. I think they are going to undercut each other just enough. … I don’t think there’s going to be blood in the streets. What will the presidential tickets be?

Romney/Huckabee Clinton/Evan Bayh Never count out a billionaire. If Bloomberg gets in, he could win this thing. What will the final results be?

You have to give the Democrats an edge if there is no Bloomberg.

Jimmy Breslin Columnist and Author What do you see happening in New York politics in 2008?

There will be a third party running. Either Hagel on an internet thing, or it’ll be Bloomberg on his own. What will be the surprise political story of 2008?

The third candidate. What will the presidential tickets be?

Giuliani Obama And either Hagel or Bloomberg What will the final results be?

I don’t know. It’s too early. What would be the book title to describe New York politics in 2008?

I might write a book, and I wouldn’t know what to say yet.

What would be the book title to describe New York politics in 2008?

Shelly Silver:The Only One Standing.


24

CITY HALL

www.cityhallnews.com

DECE MB E R 2007

HETS P O R P from LICY& SYCHICS the PO LP A C I T I L PO Dominic Carter Anchor, “Inside City Hall” on NY1

Tom Ognibene

What do you see happening in New York politics in 2008?

I think that were going to continue to see a kinder and gentler Gov. Spitzer. We’ll see a softer side, for the entire year, of the governor’s personality.

Former Council Minority Leader

What will be the surprise political story of 2008?

The top of the national tickets will be Senator Clinton and Giuliani. I think nobody wants to believe that there could be New York candidates at the top of the national tickets.

What do you see happening in New York politics in 2008?

Based upon the gross mistakes of the governor in handling issues—immigration licensing—and issues like Troopergate, he’s made it almost impossible for the Democrats to gain control of the State Senate.

What will the presidential tickets be?

Clinton Giuliani Conventional wisdom, when it comes to number two on the tickets, goes completely out of the window. I could see, maybe, Giuliani/McCain, in that order … but I don’t think anyone is really clued in to what the possible nominees may be thinking. I think [Bloomberg] wants to run, and if I had to bet, he’s going to do so. But he doesn’t want to be seen as a spoiler. It depends on who the nominees are.

What will be the surprise political story of 2008?

People are going to begin to see through Hillary Clinton. It’s not going to be determined early. It may go all the way down to the convention. [Obama] does not win the election. Notwithstanding Dennis Haysbert on 24, America is not ready for an African-American president.

What will the final results be?

If I had to guess I’d say Clinton. It will be extremely nasty. It’ll be a very close election. It’s in each of their personalities to never lose. What would be the book title to describe New York politics in 2008?

Kingmakers.

Mickey Carroll

What will the presidential tickets be?

Giuliani/Midwestern conservative. Clinton/Moderate with more conservative credentials.

Director, Quinnipiac Polling Group Institute What do you see happening in New York politics in 2008?

There are more questions than answers.Will Bloomberg run? Only Kevin Sheekey knows.Will the Albany freeze continue, or will Joe Bruno and Eliot Spitzer have a season of warmth and good fellowship?

What will the final results be?

Giuliani 53 percent, Clinton 47 percent. Bloomberg is more likely than not to get involved.

What will be the surprise political story of 2008?

The surprise is going to be Bloomberg. If he runs it’ll be a surprise, if he doesn’t run it’ll be a surprise.

What would be the book title to describe New York politics in 2008?

What will the presidential tickets be?

Clinton/Richardson Romney/Huckabee If Hillary Clinton gets knocked off, in Iowa or in New Hampshire, I’ve got to believe it will be Gore.

Do the Voters Keep Their Sanity or Roll Over and Play Dead?

What will the final results be?

There is no historical precedent for this election, especially when you consider that everybody who is talked about comes in with a lot negatives. What would be the book title to describe New York politics in 2008?

Unprecedented

ODDS&Ends Old Vegas bookmakers have been trumped by new technology, and dozens of websites exist to bet on the outcome of all sorts of things, including who will be the next person to measure drapes in the Oval Office. Intrade lets people buy shares in the candidates’ futures. Ladbrokes gives odds to bet against. Here are this month’s standings, with last month’s included for comparison.

*** PRESIDENTIAL*** ***ODDS ***

-------------------LAST MONTH----------CURRENTLY ----CURRENTLY LAST MONTH PRICE ON ODDS ON PRICE ON ODDS ON DECLARED REPUBLICANS INTRADE LADBROKES INTRADE PRICE ON ODDS ON PRICE ON LADBROKES ODDS ON DECLARED ----------------------------------------------------------INTRADE LADBROKES INTRADE LADBROKES REPUBLICANS JOHN MCCAIN

15.7

7 TO 1

Rudolph Giuliani 43.9 RUDOLPH GIULIANI 25.0 evens 7 TO 2 Mike TOMMY Huckabee THOMPSON13.70.4 8 toN/A1 DUNCAN HUNTER N/A0.2 66 TO 1 Duncan Hunter N/A ROMNEY 23.3 1610to TO 11 John MITT McCain 7.2 SAM BROWNBACK 5.20.8 633to TO 11 Ron Paul PAUL TO 11 Mitt RON Romney 24.73.0 240to MIKE HUCKABEE 2.0 33 TO 1 Tom Tancredo 0.10.1 N/A JIM GILMORE N/A Fred TOM Thompson TANCREDO 5.30.4 10 to N/A1

4.9

42.4 38.0 6.7 0.3 0.3 0.1 16.0 7.2 0.5 8.8 2.9 27.8 1.4 0.1 0.1 7.8 0.6

12 TO 1 91TOto 2 1 25 N/Ato 1 6666 TO 1to 1 1016 TO 1to 1 336TOto 1 1 502TOto 1 1 33 TO 1 100 N/Ato 1 8N/A to 1

---------------------------------------------------------OF JULY 10, 3, 2007*** **DATA*** ASDATA OF ASDECEMBER 2007** ----------------------------------------------------------

CURRENTLY LAST ----MONTH --------------------LAST MONTH----------CURRENTLY PRICE ON ODDS ON PRICE ON ODDS ON DECLARED PRICE ON ODDS ON PRICE ON ODDS ON DECLARED DEMOCRATS INTRADE INTRADE LADBROKES LADBROKES INTRADE INTRADELADBROKES LADBROKES DEMOCRATS -----------------------------------------------------------

HILLARY Biden CLINTON Joseph BARACK OBAMA Hillary Clinton JOHN EDWARDS Chris Dodd BILL RICHARDSON John Edwards CHRIS DODD Mike Gravel JOSEPH BIDEN Dennis KUCINICH Kucinich DENNIS MIKE GRAVEL Barack Obama Bill Richardson

52.0 566 TO 4to 1 43.60.4 5 TO66 4 to 1 0.4 27.8 4 TO 1 39.4 4 TO 11 to 7 67.9 1 to 5 71.7 7.3 766 TO 1to 1 5.30.310 TO66 1 to 1 0.2 2.6 28 TO 1 1.9 28 TO 1 5.8 16 16 to 1 0.3 N/Ato 1 0.55.3 N/A 0.1 0.6 33100 TO 1to 1 0.60.133 TO100 1 to 1 0.1 80 80 to 1 0.1 N/Ato 1 0.10.1 N/A 0.1 0.2 21.9 9N/A to 2 13.2 N/A 11 to 2 0.7

33 to 1

0.8

33 to 1

--------------------LAST MONTH----------CURRENTLY----PRICE ON ODDS ON PRICE ON ODDS ON POTENTIAL ON LADBROKES ODDS ON INTRADE PRICE ON ODDS ON ENTRIES INTRADE LADBROKES POTENTIAL PRICE ----------------------------------------------------------INTRADE LADBROKES INTRADE LADBROKES ENTRIES Michael Bloomberg 0.6 Al Gore 3.7

N/A N/A

15.9 8.5

N/A N/A


GRISTEDES

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John A. Catsimatidis

That is why we proudly participated in successful initial phase testing at our Roosevelt Island GRISTEDES of underwater windmill turbines powered by the East River; a clean, renewable energy source that uses the same principles as a wind farm. We are also proud to continue to carry environmentally friendly Green Reusable Bags as well as introduce paper bags made from 100% recycled paper. We welcome all our friends and neighbors to join us in proactively preserving our environment. Our 100% recycled paper bags, as well as our Green Reusable Bags, will be made available from December 23rd 2007 through January 6th at a 50% discount because at GRISTEDES we are committed to our customers and to the environment. GO GREEN WITH GRISTEDES this holiday season. Have a Happy and Merry Holiday and a safe and Healthy New Year!

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26

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he presidential candidates spent their 2007 summers issuing massive policy proposals for restructuring health care and addressing the mounting problems in Iraq. By next summer, since we all already know that they will be campaigning early for 2009, the would-be mayors, public advocates, comptrollers and borough presidents should follow their lead, issuing specific plans to

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address the affordable housing crisis and other aspects related to New York’s longterm growth, among other issues. In a city where almost every election is certain to be determined by a primary between like-minded candidates with almost identical voting records, this is especially important. There is something in it for the candidates, certainly. In the midst of his 2005 nine-way primary race for Manhattan borough president, Scott Stringer issued his “Vision for the Office of Manhattan Borough President” to set him apart from the rest of the nearly ideologically indistinguishable field. His five-part, 117-page researched mission statement won him much praise and helped woo several major newspaper endorsements. Most importantly, though, it served as an actual blueprint for his time in office, especially on community board reform. That is just one of the high profile successes which have some people thinking

that he will have the substance to make a citywide run in 2009, after just one term as borough president. But the best example of a candidate with specific and practical proposals for what to do once elected is, not surprisingly, the technocrat executive, Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Not only did he spell out precisely what he would do if elected and then if re-elected, but he has periodically issued report cards on how well his administration has done delivering on them. He is noticeably frustrated that this aspect of his administration does not get more attention, and rightfully so. (And he has let his promises guide, but not restrict him—neither the tax hike nor the smoking ban were much discussed in his 2001 campaign, and PlaNYC was not a factor of his 2005 campaign.) New Yorkers should be paying more attention to a politician who keeps his promises and hope that those angling to follow him in office will pick up this part of his legacy.

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LETTERS Stop Fare Hike and Get Rid of the Port Authority The number of people who use New York City subways and buses annually is approximately 2.25 billion. Compare that to people who use the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) and Metro-North and these rail lines numbers dwarf in comparison. In 2006, 76.9 million people used Metro-North, while 32.16 million people used the LIRR for a total of approximately 100 million people. Plus there is a tremendous rip-off of New York by the Port Authority. The Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA), which is a division of the MTA, operates seven intrastate toll bridges and two tunnels, whose tolls are overwhelmingly paid by city residents. Yet their revenues are unfairly divided to favor residents of the northern suburbs and Long Island. Despite this tremendous disparity in ridership and revenues, the New York City transit system only receives 53 percent of all monies, while the LIRR and Metro-North receive 20 percent. Throw in the fact that the riders of both the LIRR and Metro-North no longer have to pay a commuter tax anymore, and it seems clear to me that city residents are not being treated fairly. They are already carrying enough of the burden and should not subsidize a fare increase for residents outside of New York City. It is simply not fair to ask New York City commuters to pay more when their fares have already provided the MTA with a projected $323 million surplus at

the end of this year. City residents clear- address their growing budget deficits. ly contributed a great majority to this Unfortunately, the MTA’s budgetary probsurplus. It is also extremely short-sighted lems do not stem from transportation to raise fares at a time when we are improvements made on Staten Island but encouraging more people to take mass from the MTA’s inability to manage their transit. debt and overtime pay. Additionally, it has As a resident of INSIDE been reported that the Staten Island, I see His Port Authority is also these increases as CASE looking to drive up another tax on our bridge and tunnel tolls. community, a comNew York City resimunity already overStringer’s The ’09 Bind dents pay a substantial taxed and for what. part of these tolls and Staten Islanders see Mayors around the country A do not receive aid for little return on the enroll in Bloomberg’s City Hall academy mass transit in return. taxes and fees that Far too much of their they pay. Our roads, M revenue goes to New bridges and highways Jersey, including capicontinue to remain tal and operating costs clogged with traffic for their transportation with few alternatives services. In fact, the available for resiINDEX: Port Authority does dents to get from not contribute at all to New York City’s their home to work. transportation needs. Whether it has been the MTA’s lack of I believe that the Port Authority, as concern when dealing with traffic conconstituted, should be eliminated. gestion due to their construction projects Assembly Member Ivan Lafayette or their continued delay in building (D-Queens) Staten Island’s long awaited third bus depot, Staten Islanders are tired of seeing their transportation needs neglected by Fare Hikes Would the MTA. Be Extra Tax for As a member of the MTA’s Capital Islanders Staten Island commuters continue to Program Review Board, I will continue to see their taxes and the money they pay in advocate for Staten Island commuters fees and tolls flow into the surrounding and will oppose any toll or fee increase boroughs while their transportation until Staten Island’s transportation needs needs are ignored. Adding insult to have been adequately addressed. ASSEMBLY MEMBER LOU TOBACCO injury, the MTA is proposing to raise tolls and fees on Staten Island commuters to (R-STATEN ISLAND) David Yassky,

below, considers his past and future Back in the District (Page 4), local candidates compete for Bloomberg bucks (Page 9) and Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes discusses his new life as a novelist (Page 31).





David Paterson speaks Up and Coming: On/Off the Record Western New about his changing role as lieutenant governor.

Page 2

York spotlights five elected officials to watch.

James Tedisco goes Back & Forth about suing Eliot Spitzer

and the special role he sees for Assembly Republicans in Albany.

Page 6

www.nycapitolnews.com

SPECIAL PREVIEW ISSUE

Rumored Reynolds Retirement Could Swing State Senate

Page 19

NOVEMBER 2007

Making

Maziarz seat could be Dem pick-up if he makes rumored House run BY JOHN R.D. CELOCK

series of possible moves on the Western New York political chessboard could move one State Senate race from safe Republican to political toss-up just as Democrats make a play for control of the Senate. Multiple sources in Western New York politics have confirmed that there is a strong possibility that Cong. Tom Reynolds (R–Erie) will not run for a sixth term next year, opening up a race for the seat by State Sen. George Maziarz (R–Niagara), thus placing Maziarz’ seat up for grabs. Rumors of a potential Reynolds departure and a Maziarz play for a congressional seat have been flying around political circles in Buffalo and Niagara Falls for months, though Reynolds spokesman L.D. Platt denies the

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CONTINUED ON PAGE 4

will launch full-time in January 2008, publishing monthly.

How David Soares believes he and the Albany DA’s office are showing New York the way on Rockefeller reform and public integrity BY EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE

avid Soares shakes his head. “The oldest working prostitute in Albany,” he says, pointing out the woman in caked-on makeup and a pink coat on the bench across the street. Soares is sitting behind the wheel of his black Dodge Charger—his Batmobile, as he sometimes calls it—complete with toy motorcycle and Teddy Grahams wrapper (as well as a few stray cookies)

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CONTINUED ON PAGE 10

INSIDE:

Rush to the Finish Line in Racing Debate

KT McFarland’s 3 Column Debuts

ANDREW SCHWARTZ

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Plans and Politicking

Assembly Member Mark Weprin Case in Point: Big Decisions by 15 Returns to His Old Block 18 New York Courts This Month 20

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Vol. 2, No. 6

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November 2007

Guru

BY DAVID FREEDLANDER

ichael Bloomberg is sitting in his bullpen next to Beverly Hills Mayor Jimmy Delshad (D) and bragging. New York has the best water, he tells Delshad. The most languages are being spoken on its streets. The largest concentrations of a whole range of ethnic and nationality groups call his city home. Then the mayors dispensed with the small talk. Bloomberg shifted in his seat and they got down to business. Now it was Delshad’s turn to brag. Already, Beverly Hills employs technology in ways that would startle most New Yorkers. The parking meters are solar-powered, accept credit card payment and can have time added to them via text messages from any cellular phone. All the residential water meters in the city will soon be wireless, eliminating the need for meter readers and feeding a city mainframe information about leaks and outages. License plate readers inform local police of every car that enters city limits. Sprinklers in city parks will soon be controlled by satellites which will monitor temperature and rainfall. One thing Beverly Hills does not have,

nxious citizens line up at a microphone stand placed in the aisle on a Tuesday night inside a tiny theater on the Lower East Side, gathered for a town hall meeting. From the stage, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer (D) says to a smattering of applause, “I have to get some of these city agencies off of their you-know-what and onto the Lower East Side!” The 30 or so mostly grayhairs in the crowd scan through Blackberries or take openmouthed naps. From the microphone comes a long litany of complaints about city life—subways that are too slow, squabbles on the community board, rowdy youth who get on the bus without paying. Stringer stands on stage and patiently takes it all in, his eyebrows raised in concern while two bespectacled aides furiously scribble notes on yellow legal pads. Stringer has been doing these town hall meetings all over the city—25 by his own count—with at least one within the district of each of the borough’s community boards. But if the rumors swirling around the city’s political circles are true, he will not be holding them for too much longer. One of the oddities of the city’s

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BY EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE

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The November Poll: Which Council Member Would Write the Best Novel? 22


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OP-ED The Unborn Victims of Violence Act is Pro-Choice, But Protects Life BY ASSEMBLY MEMBER MICHAEL BENJAMIN s the Assembly sponsor of A5777, The Unborn Victims of Violence Act (UVV), I strongly believe that the involuntary termination of a pregnancy through violence or other premeditated act must be treated as a violent felony. Under current state law, an unborn child is not considered a legal victim of a crime. In the case of homicide, New York literally allows criminals to get away with murder. Sadly, murder has become the number one cause of death for pregnant women in America. An estimated one in five women will be abused during their pregnancy. Women who choose to have their babies are dying (and, so are their babies) because of their choice. And most of the assailants are the fathers of the unborn children. Violent attacks on pregnant women in New York have increased since 2000 and highlight the deficiency in current law and the need for reform. In September, a pregnant Long Island woman and her unborn son lost their lives in a senseless act of violence.

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This was one case in a litany of cases that cry out for justice: March 2006 — a nine months pregnant Bronx woman, was brutally stabbed, strangled and beaten to death. April 2005 — a near-term pregnant woman was found shot in the head and dumped in the waters off Manhattan. February 2005 — a pregnant secretary was shot to death by her boyfriend because she had gotten pregnant and refused to have an abortion. Christmas Eve 2003 — Allan Murphy shot his girlfriend, who was threemonths pregnant, in the temple. July 2003 — a pregnant woman in upstate Troy was repeatedly stabbed in the abdomen by her boyfriend in an effort to cause a miscarriage. June 2003 — a pregnant Bronx woman was repeatedly assaulted and kicked in the stomach causing the death of her unborn twin boys at eight months. March 2003 — a married man bound his pregnant girlfriend to a chair and then blew up her house. The girlfriend had refused to have an abortion. April 2000 — a Bronx nurse was injected with the abortion drug by her lover, a doctor, in an effort to terminate

her pregnancy. New York State lags behind most states in this area of crime victims’ protection. Thirty-one states now provide protection and justice for pregnant women and their unborn children who are victims of violence. Courts have ruled that ITAL Roe v. Wade ITAL does not protect, much less confer on an assailant, a third-party right to destroy an unborn child. Presently, state law effectively denies adequate protection to pregnant women and their children. Although the babies are laid to rest in marked graves and the surviving families grieve for them, New York law tells them that their loved one never existed. When a woman makes a conscious decision to keep her baby and has that choice violently taken away from her, justice demands that the perpetrator be punished for that crime. I support a woman’s right to choose and my bill clearly and unarguably protects legal abortion rights. However, unlike most of my Democratic colleagues, I openly support a woman’s right to choose life. NARAL Pro-Choice America and their Assembly supporters have taken an “all-or-nothing approach”

Looking After Our City’s Infrastructure BY CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS DAN GARODNICK AND LETITIA JAMES t is common sense that the city should have a strong voice in the large-scale development that takes place across the five boroughs, even when it is not a city-funded project. After all, these projects—from Eastside Access and the Second Avenue Subway, to Atlantic Yards and the World Trade Center site—will have a profound effect on our infrastructure. Yet today, there is no city-level entity to coordinate the construction and maintenance of these projects, or to examine their impact. Without such oversight, the city cannot effectively prepare to meet the needs of inevitable growth. It is our hope that the City Council’s new Infrastructure Task Force can be that coordinating entity to work with state and federal agencies, and to speak up for the needs of our roads, schools and energy, among others. The Infrastructure Task Force will assess crucial parts of the city’s infrastructure that are not dealt with in traditional oversight hearings conducted by the Council, and will focus on capital assets that are controlled by the federal government, New York state, public authorities and many private corporations. Unfortunately, many of these non-city entities do not publicly provide an adequate

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breakdown of their holdings, making it difficult to determine the condition of their facilities. This challenge will only get worse if new projects are implemented without any coordination with the city itself. We also need to be thoughtful about the effect of private development on our systems. Where literally dozens of highrise residential towers sprout up within the catchment zone of a single public elementary school, it stands to reason that there will be a need for new classrooms. With new residents come increased demands on mass transit and our already-congested roadways. We cannot pretend that we don’t see it coming. Take, as another example, the impact of private development on our sewers. Because our storm water drainage and sewage lines are combined, intense rainfall can overload the system, diverting sewage away from treatment plants and directly into the city’s natural waterways. The proposed Atlantic Yards project alone is expected to produce an estimated 1.1 million gallons of extra sewage and rain runoff—and, of course, this has citywide implications. In his PlaNYC 2030 report, Mayor Bloomberg gave the city a roadmap toward a sustainable future. The Infrastructure Task Force, which was created by Speaker Christine Quinn, can play a significant role in turning these visions into reality.

None of these measures will come cheaply, but there can be little dispute for the need for investment in our systems. Last July’s steam pipe explosion cost local businesses $30 million in lost revenue, and August’s flooding of the subway systems cost the city millions more, as many people simply could not show up for work. The 2003 blackout that left the East Coast in the dark cost New York City $1 billion in lost economic activity and tax revenue. And, as the Partnership for New York City has reported, the cost of congestion amounts to $13 billion each year. One-time investments alone, however, will not bring our infrastructure to full health. A ribbon cutting won’t keep the lights on. To keep our systems in a state of good repair, we will have to study whether we have a sufficient supply of skilled labor, and we will have to budget funds for this critical work. Our rapid growth presents significant challenges. For the city to continue to thrive, we will need to develop a set of best practices for accommodating growth in a way that will allow New York to continue to prosper. We have an opportunity to plan for the future—and we intend to make the most of it.

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Dan Garodnick (D-Manhattan) and Letitia James (D-Brooklyn) are cochairs of the City Council’s Infrastructure Task Force.

to enacting the UVV Act. They believe any effort to protect a woman’s right to choose life harms another woman’s right to have an abortion. I spoke with a former president of the state District Attorneys Association who has confirmed that line of thinking. And since district attorneys are elected, many will not support the UVV Act. Pro-abortion zealots seem to treat the loss of an unborn child as though it were a bruise. They seem insensitive toward the mothers and their loss, otherwise they would not object to recognizing the intrinsic value of an unborn child’s life. Pro-choice politics requires that Democrats march in lock-step or face electoral consequences. That, I believe, is the reason why the bill has been blocked by Assembly Health Committee chairman Richard Gottfried. Otherwise, together with the Republican minority, there are more than enough votes to pass the Assembly. We should not let purposeful, vicious acts directed against pregnant mothers and their unborn children continue to go unpunished. I serve in the State Legislature because I want to create a society in which everyone is able to flourish—even the unborn child. The UVV Act will be enacted when those opposing this bill choose compassion and justice over politics. Until then, I will work to change hearts and minds.

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Michael Benjamin is a Democrat representing parts of the Bronx in the Assembly. welcomes submissions to the op-ed page. A piece should be maximum 650 words long, accompanied by the name and address of the author, and submitted via email to cityhall@manhattanmedia.com to be considered.


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Begging

Spitzer’s

Pardon BY DAVID FREEDLANDER O’HARA CARRIES NO cell phone, does not own a computer, and is not reachable by email. But the political gadfly, perennial candidate and man with the distinction of being the first New Yorker since Susan B. Anthony to be convicted for voting says that he can be found Friday night at what he calls “an old-man bar” on the tattered edges of Brooklyn anytime before 4:00 a.m. That is where he sits, nursing a bucket of Budweiser shorties and explaining why he is still relentlessly pursuing a pardon from Gov. Spitzer (D) as the Christmas season approaches. “If this goes through, I’ll be the first guy pardoned in New York State since Lenny Bruce—and he was already dead by the time he was pardoned,” O’Hara says. “I’d kind of like to avoid that fate.” As O’Hara sees it, an executive pardon by Spitzer would resolve one of the most shameful moments of New York City political history—and that, he insists, is not just because the case involves him. O’Hara’s troubles with the law date to 1996, when he was arrested for election fraud. Four years earlier, in 1992, he had briefly moved out of his rent-controlled apartment in Sunset Park, blocks from where he had spent his childhood. He moved into a friend’s house with an eye on

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That decision led to his problems. Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, whom O’Hara had made a career out of antagonizing, claimed O’Hara falsely registered at the new address so he could stay within the newly-restricted boundaries of the City Council seat he was seeking at the time. Three trials, eleven appeals and 1,500 hours of community service later (on top of $20,000 in fines)—making his one of the most criminal expensive cases in New York history—and O’Hara is a convicted felon, the only one ever charged with the crime of voting under a false address. The conviction has not much slowed the man who made a career out of running and railing against machine politics in Brooklyn. In 2001, his candidate for district attorney Sandra Roper, who is now his girlfriend, won nearly 40 percent of the Democratic primary vote in a losing effort to unseat Hynes, shocking many. And several judges who O’Hara helped run for office have been elected. His personal campaign against Hynes has continued as well. In 2005, O’Hara filed a complaint against the district attorney’s office with the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board alleging that a third of the lawyers in the district attorney’s office live outside the city in violation of the law, which he says is a far more serious residency requirement than the one which led

“When I was convicted it set a precedent that when you register to vote you are subject to prosecution. If he pardons, that precedent is wiped out,” John O’Hara said. “That’s the reason why I should get it.” buying. Like all good New Yorkers, he was reluctant to let go of the rent-controlled one, but, in keeping with someone who had never missed an election, he dutifully registered to vote at the new place.

to his own indictment. O’Hara is often portrayed in the press as something of a tough talking Irish street brawler, slugging cans of beer and spitting in the eye of the machine. He looks the

ANDREW SCHWARTZ

John O’Hara renews the effort to get his vote back

John O’Hara has the distinction of being the first New Yorker since Susan B. Anthony to be convicted for voting. part, with a protruding lower jaw, burly frame and dressed like he’s on his way to do some yard work. But the description is a tad shallow, if not stereotypical. Perhaps the years—he is now 46—and the legal battles have mellowed him, but O’Hara comes across as a thoughtful person, one who can speak as knowledgeably about Pakistan as he can about the minutiae of New York state’s byzantine election statutes. He spends most of his time these days plowing through the dailies and the 35 mostly political magazines to which he subscribes. He says that he speed-reads most of the books that he reads, going through them while standing up at the bookstore. There also is an earnestness to O’Hara, a sincerity about the role of citizens in a democracy that seems all but stamped out in this ironic age. He supports North Carolina Sen. John Edwards in the Democratic primaries, though he confesses an admiration for the blustery former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel. “I think politics is the only thing in our life that matters,” he says. “Everything else is just a job.” Personally, though, the consequences of his conviction have been significant. O’Hara was disbarred, leading to the loss

of his job as a Wall Street lawyer. He now scrapes by to afford that rent-controlled apartment at the root of his problems. But perhaps most galling of all for this man whose life has been consumed by watching, managing and running campaigns since his first experience handling out flyers for George McGovern—since he is a felon, he is barred from voting in New York State. All of this helps explains why he has been haggling for a pardon ever since the Supreme Court declined to hear his case in 2004. He wants the pardon to get his life back. And he wants the pardon because he believes it would be a huge rebuke to Hynes, whom O’Hara says pursued him with a vengeance even as murder rates in parts of the borough soared. “People confuse executive clemencies with pardons,” O’Hara says. “A pardon is a complete exoneration.” He casts the issue in larger terms. “When I was convicted it set a precedent that when you register to vote you are subject to prosecution. If he pardons, that precedent is wiped out,” he said, arguing that if this precedent stands, the only guarantee against prosecution is not registering to vote at all. “That’s the reason why I should get it,” he said.


CITY HALL

www.cityhallnews.com about him that will be called The People v. The People. Also, Nick Cassavetes, who directed Alpha Dog, is apparently interested in doing a feature film about him, tentatively titled O’Hara. After three terms of Pataki though, O’Hara firmly believes his best chance at exoneration is now. By tradition, most pardons happen in December, and O’Hara says that a Christmas pardon will be the perfect way for the new governor to show he is still the man who campaigned on a platform of insider dealing, which O’Hara blames for his troubles. “Look, he’ll get good press for the day, he’ll get to be in the documentary. What has he got to lose?” O’Hara said. “It’s the only thing a governor can do on his own without needing the Legislature or any agencies or various boards.” But O’Hara knows that even if Spitzer were open to the idea of a pardon, the governor’s recent troubles may make him

★The Other Presidential Candidates from New York ★

LANAKILA WASHINGTON

From: The Bronx Party: Humanistic Party Job experience: Entertainer, CEO of Malachi Travel Agency. #1 campaign promise: Bring those troops home and bring those jobs back to America.

Humanistic Candidate Focuses on People Over Politics BY DAN RIVOLI

Perhaps most galling of all for O’Hara whose life has been consumed by politics—since he is a convicted felon, he is barred from voting in New York State. al. “Across the country, governors use the power far less than presidents,” he said. “Mainly because for some reason there is far more attention on this aspect of their job than there is for presidents. The President of the United States pardons people all the time, but you only hear about it when it’s particularly newsworthy.” Alex Gibney, who made the film Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, has been following him around for a documentary

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ALSO RUNNING

ANDREW SCHWARTZ

He notes that several articles have portrayed him as a political dissident, and that he is the first modern-day American he can remember being referred to this way. But he has thrown himself into the role, angling for that pardon. He has compiled a thick executive pardon petition, complete with press clippings, and is calling reporters and editorial boards to press his case. “The hours are good, but the pay is lousy,” he said. He dutifully applied each year to thenGov. Pataki (R), but as he says, “Pataki did what he was known for—nothing,” and the governor left office last year having used his constitutional prerogative exactly once—for Bruce in 2003, who had been arrested almost 40 years prior for obscenity during his comedy act. According to P.S Ruckman Jr., an expert in pardons and a professor at Rock Valley College in Illinois, this is not unusu-

wary of potentially angering the Kings County Democrats. And he knows that he may not have helped his own cause by declaring that if pardoned and re-instated to the bar, he would consider running against Hynes in 2009. “I mean, let’s face it,” he said, “you don’t get bad press for not pardoning someone.” Phone calls to Spitzer’s office about the possibility of a pardon were not returned. davidfreedlander@gmail.com

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Ever since James Keith Washington started attending Honolulu Community College, he has been going by the name “Lanakila”--Hawaiian for “victorious.” Now he has legally changed his name and begun a write-in campaign for president. Washington, 46, is running on a platform of equality and the humane treatment of people throughout the world. On issues like Middle East foreign policy and immigration, Washington promotes building “humanistic relations” with people and countries to avoid conflict. “The 21st century is a century of peace,” Washington said. “Right now, it seems to be going in another direction.” Washington, born and raised in the South Bronx, was active in the Democratic Party from the age of 21, beginning his work in politics as an envelope stuffer for the state party. After a string of other jobs in the entertainment industry—culminating in a role as an extra on Law & Order: Criminal Intent—Washington tried to run for Senate in 2004. The Democrats did not back him (incumbent Sen. Charles Schumer was running for his second term), and Washington instead turned to the Reform Party, but left them after deciding the party contributed to Republicans. Dropping out of the race, he formed the Humanistic Party, which looked to meld his experiences with Buddhism and the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “The only policy we truly have is developing humanistic relations with the people,” Washington said. “We also base everything on my agenda, which is community first.” When people ask why he is not running for a local seat, Washington said his vision for America is on a national scale. “My grandmother, and my mother, they always encouraged me to go for the biggest dreams that I had,” Washington said. “So I said, well I’m going straight to the top.” For his presidential campaign, Washington recorded his speeches and spoken word pieces and put them on his MySpace page, YouTube and two CDs, titled Truth Be Told and State of This Nation . “I said to myself, ‘I need to start putting my stuff on recordings so it can be there for the history books,’” Washington said. “And people are really getting excited.” Though Washington’s speeches are critical of America’s foreign policy and economic condition, his recordings end in an encouraging tone, with his plans for America. Washington plans to finance his campaign through CD sales. “That’s another way,” Washington said, “of getting to the people’s homes so my name can become a household name.” danrivoli@gmail.com

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CITY HALL

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tate Sen. Jeffrey Klein, who won a competitive primary in 2004 to snatch Guy Velella’s old seat from the Republicans, now represents the Bronx neighborhood where he grew up, Morris Park. Klein recently sat down with City Hall at his favorite local Italian eatery, Venice Restaurant & Pizza. What follows are edited excerpts from the interview.

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City Hall: You’ve talked quite a bit about the subprime mortgage crisis. What can we expect to see happen at the city and state level? Jeffrey Klein: I started out on this issue back in January. I felt like the boy who cried wolf. I’m not trying to be an alarmist, but really to show that this is an issue that’s going to have a tremendous impact on all of us, whether or not we are in the middle of foreclosure or whether or not we have a subprime loan. It’s going to impact our real

Though Jeff Klein favors White Castle and McDonald’s himself, he suggests drinking lots of water when on the campaign trail. estate values, it’s going to impact our neighborhoods. [Klein orders Caesar Salad and Veal Milanese] JK: According to the study that I did, we’re looking at over 19,000 foreclosures in New York City, Westchester County and Nassau County. That’s almost a 75-percent increase. Not to sound corny or be alarmist, but if we had 19,000 properties that were burned down in New York City we would do something about it, and that’s really the equivalent because there’s no quick action. The most important piece of legislation that we can pass in the state of New York, if we can, is to regulate mortgage brokers and create a fiduciary duty, or a duty of care, between the mortgage broker and the borrower. If we had that, a lot of these problems wouldn’t be taking place. CH: Do you cook? JK: Not a lot. Too busy. Take-out. This is one of my takeout places. They deliver, it’s close enough so it comes hot. CH: What about in Albany? Do you find good places to eat up there? JK: Not Italian food. I don’t eat Italian food any place else except my district. CH: That’s a very strong statement. JK: I represent a very large Italian-American constituency. Morris Park has great restaurants, Throgs Neck, City Island. It’s very hard to get Italian food elsewhere. Even Manhattan. There are some that are outstanding, but not half as good as Belmont.

CH: You have focused on restaurant cleanliness. I was going to ask you if you have separate cutting boards for meat and vegetables at home, but you don’t cook. Do you even have a cutting board? JK: Yes, I do. CH: When was the last time you used it? JK: Yesterday. I actually made hot dogs yesterday. I took a tour of the Sabrett factory in the Bronx that makes hot dogs. CH: Is that a good thing? Do you wish you hadn’t gone on the tour? JK: No! That’s what my staff said. I’m not the healthiest eater in the world—I eat a lot of hot dogs and hamburgers. The place was spotless! You know, they crush up a lot of meats that aren’t the prime part— CH: Pig snout? JK: I didn’t see a lot of that. I saw a lot of fat. Large fat content in hot dogs. CH: Any other foods that you eat that you probably shouldn’t? JK: Love pizza. French fries. I cut back on fast food. But I like McDonald’s and Wendy’s. White Castle is my favorite. CH: You are one of three chairs of the Democratic Campaign Committee, which previously had just one person as chair. Is it better now that there are three people, or is it too many cooks? JK: I think it works out very well because we divide it up into different areas. I’m finance, Diane Savino is recruitment and Antoine Thompson is campaigns. I think we have a good team. And I think we really proved ourselves during the Craig Johnson race. [Minority Leader] Malcolm [Smith], I remember, made the appointment, decided that we were going to break it up into these three co-chairs and the next week we had this major campaign and we raised like $700,000 in three weeks. It worked out very, very well, and it still continues to work out very well. CH: Do you have advice for colleagues about what they should eat on the campaign trail? JK: I eat terrible during campaigns. I don’t want to give them advice. That’s when my eating habits really go down the toilet. I knock on a lot of doors. I love going door-to-door. When I first won, I actually made contact with 5,000 people at the door. So drink a lot of water. Stay hydrated. CH: Something I read about you on your Wikipedia page— JK: My what page? CH: Wikipedia—never heard of it? It’s great. It’s this online, interactive, communal encyclopedia. Wikipedia said that “it is widely speculated that Klein plans to run for Congress.” Is that true? Do you think you’re going to run for Congress? JK: The one thing I’ve found in politics is anything can happen. You never know what’s going to open up, but right now, my next step is what’s going to happen in the next election cycle, and I expect to be the deputy majority leader. CH: But you’ve raised a fair amount of money, probably for not a very competitive race. JK: Oh no, they spend money. You’ve got to remember, I won a seat that was a Republican seat for 100 years.

ANDREW SCHWARTZ PHOTOS

Caesar Salad and Veal Milanese with Jeffrey Klein

The State Senator feels a loyalty to local Italian eateries, just as he feels mortgage brokers should have a duty of care toward borrowers. CH: But you’re also on the Campaign Committee, so you’ve got time to devote to other people’s campaigns. JK: Yeah, but they don’t give up lightly. They spent $3 million trying to win this seat, they spent $1.4 million last time, and I’m sure they’ll spend $1 million again. So I raise my own money and I’m raising money to help my Senate Democratic colleagues and future Senate Democratic colleagues as well. CH: You have four lizards for pets. Where do they live? JK: I have tanks. Like wood-framed, glass enclosures. One tank is the size of a phone booth. I have like a sunroom in my house. That’s where I keep them. CH: How did you get into lizards? JK: I always liked animals growing up. I had every animal under the sun—I had snakes, I had birds, I used to race pigeons. A lot of people don’t know about that sport. Big Bronx sport. And also Brooklyn. Very outerborough, Italian-American. CH: Do you have to ask a neighbor to lizard-sit ever? JK: I do, actually. I have a very understanding neighbor. CH: Do you have to feed them live animals? JK: My ex-girlfriend used to do it. CH: That’s your criteria for the next girlfriend? JK: That’s a hard sell. ceichna@manhattanmedia.com

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To read more about what Klein likes about fast food in Florida, his magic number for winning a Democratic State Senate election and why he thinks the State Legislature should remain parttime, visit www.cityhallnews.com.


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: Russianoff Hour G

CH: So how did you become particularly interested in transportation? GR: It could have been something else, it could have been education, it could have been banking. This was the opportunity that was available. I’m definitely not a train nut. I can’t really tell you what year a train was built or what the lug nut is that’s connecting it to its chassis. There are many, many people who can in quite some detail. … What interests me is the politics of it. Transit, like everything in New York, is political, how much a token will cost—that dates me—how much a MetroCard will cost, how long you are going to wait for your train. Those are decisions that are made by the politicians. So how to influence that process? One of the things I did learn from law school, without being too negative about school, is that a calling of lawyers, a high calling of lawyers, is to represent interests that have trouble getting a lawyer, sort of the Clarence Darrow thing. So in my case it’s not scoundrel clients, its 7.5 million subway riders and bus riders. It feels good being a voice for them. CH: Do you get to do a lot of lawyerly activities? GR: My mom always used to say I wasn’t a real lawyer: I didn’t go to court, I didn’t do legal research. But I think I do what a lot of lawyers do, which is to lobby, write opeds, talk to decision makers, and think of strategies to move public policy along. CH: How would you categorize the relationship between straphangers and the city government? GR: Well, you know, in politics one day someone is an adversary, one day someone is a friend. And, you know, we share views I am an appointee by the mayor to the Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission, which I would acknowledge is highly unusual. … Where we agree with them we work with them. We agreed on the 2005 bond issue and I did a news conference with the mayor. And then we’ve been very critical. We sued over the West Side Stadium, which we thought was an inappropriate use of the land. Also, from a transit point of view, putting a stadium in the most congested part of the city seemed insane to us. CH: One thing you are in favor of is the fare hike. Why? GR: In past years we’ve debated whether the MTA has financial problems. We don’t this time. They have huge financial problems mainly because they borrowed an unbelievable amount of money. They borrowed $23 billion—more than the national debt of New Zealand and Luxembourg combined. And the bill is coming due. The state refused to give them capital money, and we needed

new cars and buses and track and signals, so they borrowed this money. Eventually, look, by the end of this decade, which is coming pretty quickly, 20 percent of their budget is going to be eaten up by debt service and interest payments on these bonds, $2 billion out of $10 billion. And so, I’ve been complaining about this for more than a decade, and so it would be very hypocritical for us to say, “Oh, they can deal with the problem.” The issue is who should be asked to pay. … I have to acknowledge that riders play a role in that. But right now riders pay 50 percent of the cost of operating the subways, which is the highest percentage of fare box ratio in the nation. The average of the top 50 systems is 37 percent. CH: What do you think of how the MTA has integrated technology into its systems? GR: I think its tough for them. They run largely a 19th century operation, not even a 20th century operation. Their signals were invented in the 19th century, and they are basically stop lights that automatically trigger breaks in the cars if two cars are in the same area between two lights. Change, the pace of progress is slow. The MTA first declared that they would automate their turnstiles in 1981, they sent their researcher to a bunch of different foreign cities and he would do things like pour soda into the mechanism to simulate New York conditions. And they didn’t start actually building it ’til 1994 and they didn’t complete it ’til ’97, so you have to have the long view. CH: Do you think the “this is New York and this is how it’s done” attitude retards the progress of the MTA? GR: Well, my experience has been that when the transit authority wants to do something, they say things like “This has been done in Paris and London.” For example, one-person train operation (OPTO), which is a fancy way of saying getting rid of the conductor aboard the train, so they say “Oh we could do OPTO, they do it in Paris” … When it’s convenient for them to say “I know they do it in Chicago or in Atlanta, but this is New York and we can’t do it here [they do].” So I think there is a good deal of situational ethics about it. CH: What’s your relationship like with Mayor Bloomberg? GR: You know, err … he appointed me to this commission. I’ve never carried around a cardboard cutout of him either. Cuomo, Pataki, Spitzer you know, cardboard cutouts of them, but never the mayor. CH: What about with Gov. Spitzer? GR: I had a lot of dealings with him in the mid- and late ’90s because before he became attorney general he was acting to get government reforms, like easier access to the ballot. I should say parenthetically that I have sort of a separate area here at NYPIRG where I work on government reform issues. Voter registration, campaign finance. It’s a lot less sexy than the transit stuff. … We had a meeting with Pataki that Spitzer arranged. He knew one of Pataki’s bodyguards, and he parlayed that into a meeting and we convinced Gov. Pataki to put in a bill about access to the ballot. He himself had been knocked off the ballot in some of his runs for the State Senate, and it eventually became law. CH: Have you ever considered running for office yourself? GR: Never.

EMILY BERL

ene Russianoff, attorney and chief spokesman for the Straphangers campaign, says that New York City’s mass transit system is a lot better now than it was when he started at his job in the early ’80s. But he admits that New Yorkers rarely want to talk about positive developments. Sitting in his office at New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) down the street from City Hall, Russianoff defended his newly close relationship with Mayor Michael Bloomberg on congestion pricing, gave his take on the proposed fare hike and shared his personal views on the MTA’s ability to keep pace with technology. And, of course, he gave a “rider report card” for his own morning commute. What follows is an edited transcript.

CH: Never? Never will? Never considered it? GR: That boat never arrived and never left. I like working with elected officials, but I don’t think, you know, any job that would require me to work, like go to five different events every night. I have two little kids. I waited ’til a little bit later in life to have kids. The last couple of weeks I’ve had nine public hearings, the congestion pricing hearing, there were five of them, I didn’t see my kids for the better part of two weeks. And you know, it was tolerable because it was only going to be this relatively short period of time, but a lifestyle like that… I’m trying to think of another word other than “it sucks.” CH: So the prospect of being in elected office is not appealing? GR: It’s not appealing. You know the other thing, I think for a lot of politicians part of their job is to listen to their constituents. And they end up taking often these very convoluted, Clinton-esque positions and you understand why, but it’s not particularly satisfying. I don’t think of myself as a demagogue or a zealot, but I like to feel relatively comfortable with the opinions that I’m expressing. CH: What’s your own subway ride in the morning? GR: I have a good one. I take the R from 9th street in Park Slope. It’s long enough to read one or two of the papers. I often get a seat, except during the height of the rush hour, and as I get older that becomes more important to me. I don’t ride it late at night, and I get lots of complains about the R late at night. CH: And that drops you at the City Hall stop, right near your office, right? GR: That’s one of the great things about this job. I still have to leave around five to pick up my kids. … It’s pretty reliable. I’d give it higher than the C-minus that the riders gave it. —Elie Mystal emystal@manhattanmedia.com

C


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City Hall - December 1, 2007