Bill de Blasio
It seems only Comptroller John Liu and Public Advocate Bill de Blasio out of all the mayoral candidates of both parties care about public safety. At least that was the message sent to an audience of a few hundred people in Morningside Heights' Riverside Church. This event was sponsored by Communities United for Police Reform and the Amsterdam News and drew bus loads of people from Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx as well as locals. So it seems a particularly bad forum to blow off. And yet only John Liu and Bill de Blasio showed up. This almost certainly got both their campaigns something of a boost with the audience since you can't really convince people to vote for you at a forum if you don't show up.
Public safety is a big issue for all voters and there are widely differing views on the topic, particularly issues like stop-and-frisk. Riverside Church is a hugely symbolic and influential venue which has hosted speakers including Martin Luther King, jr., President Bill Clinton, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan. And Amsterdam News is one of the oldest newspapers targeted to the black community in America and remains influential. It seems to be a particularly bad forum to blow off.
John Liu and Bill de Blasio were able to discuss public safety with each other and the audience for 45+ minutes. The Republican candidates basically admitted it wasn't their audience and they preferred focusing on Republican opponents and communities for the primaries (honest and reasonable, though re-enforces the Republican/black community divide). Sal Albanese blamed traffic (I like Sal, but a mayor has to be able to deal with NYC problems like traffic and still get the job done). Adolfo Carrion and Bill Thompson said they were too busy elsewhere to attend. And Christine Quinn, Erick Salgado and Joseph Lhota didn't even bother yet to give an excuse.
Meanwhile, also this week a Democratic club covering Morningside Heights, the Broadway Democrats, endorsed John Liu for mayor and Tish James for Public Advocate. The mayoral endorsement was particularly contentious with John Liu and Christine Quinn being the top two candidates. I wonder if more would have voted for Liu had this forum right in their neighborhood occurred before the vote.
These videos are from the March 5th Mayoral Forum hosted by Democracy for NYC (seems Christine Quinn and Bill Thompson didn't show)
Former City Council member Sal Albanese:
Community leader and radio broadcaster Erick Salgado:
Former City Council member and current NYC Comptroller John Liu:
Former City Council member and current public advocate Bill de Blasio:
Trying to give as much exposure to the candidates as possible since this is a pretty important election and voter turnout may be low.
My wife and I got involved (perhaps way TOO involved) in local Brooklyn politics thanks to a high school friend of hers who ran for a judicial position. At about the same time we were recruited into the brawl that is Brooklyn politics, I was organizing protests to "welcome" the 2004 Republican National Convention to NYC. In the end these two things led to my becoming a well known blogger in Brooklyn (primarily at Daily Gotham) and my wife becoming an officer (currently 2nd Vice President) of the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats (CBID).
So every year we attend the CBID annual dinner. And blogging about it since 2007. 2008 was a particularly good dinner, noted for Chuck Schumer giving a rousing speech which I wrote about and titled "I'm Not Afraid of John McCain!" In that speech Schumer predicted the huge victory of Barack Obama. The 2009 dinner not only honored one of my favorite members of Congress (Nydia Velasquez) but also gave one of the best rundowns of single payer healthcare I have ever heard, thanks to Dr. Oliver Fein (who I believe I saw this year as well but he didn't speak). Can't find my write up about 2010 but my 2011 coverage included some videos of some of the speeches (thanks to the efforts of Raul Rothblatt). Not sure if I blogged the 2012 dinner since Daily Gotham was dead at that time and I was focused more on work and family than politics.
But last night's dinner was another good one and had many elements that would have been huge shocks 4 years ago.
CBID is the most reform and liberal of the Brooklyn "reform" clubs and is well known for asking the hardest questions of politicians at their monthly meetings and for many years stood up to the corrupt local machine led by the now disgraced Vito Lopez. They have sometimes put ideology before practicality, but have become more united and practical in recent years and so have become more effective without losing their reputation, often repeated last night, of being some of the most active and hard to please of Democrats in Brooklyn. I believe most speakers last night gave some version of the line "CBID sets the bar very high for elected officials."
Chuck Schumer was there, as always, and gave one of his usual excellent speeches. He continued a theme I first heard pushed at the community swearing in ceremony for Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez. Coming from that event I was one of the first people to blog that Comprehensive Immigration Reform was about to be a major push by the Democratic Party. I think it was FIRST mentioned at Nydia's event by NYC Comptroller and (very) likely mayoral candidate John Liu, but then reiterated quite deliberately by speaker after speaker. Last night both Chuck Schumer and Congresswoman (my Congresswoman) Yvette Clarke emphasized Comprehensive Immigration Reform as a must pass plank this year, practically daring Republicans to commit political suicide by opposing it. Again, this kind of strong progressive rhetoric by Democrats is quite welcome and I am glad it is continuing. Schumer and Clarke also both emphasized gun control as a major plank in the Democratic agenda for this year, again practically daring Republicans to sacrifice themselves on the altar of NRA fanaticism.
Four mayoral candidates also attended last night. Missing was Christine Quinn...perhaps remembering that she was once the recipient of CBID's "Tarnished Fork" award (a tradition they sadly have given up and really should bring back!) for her central role in the seemingly now ignored slushgate scandal.
Bill Thompson gave a short speech (a great tradition many more speakers should follow!) basically congratulating the honorees and praising the efforts and high standards of CBID, messages conveyed by every politician who spoke...in a more long winded manner. I am warming to Bill Thompson's relaxed style, and I am reminded by
more and more people that despite his boring reputation, he came far closer than anyone expected to defeating Bloomberg and he may have a better chance than I have given him credit for.
John Liu gave a rousing speech as always. A brilliant man who highlighted his excellent record as Comptroller. Honestly, his record as Comptroller reaffirms why I endorsed him. He did NOT officially announce his candidacy, but he did seem to be semi-officially announcing that he will officially announce very soon. Of course even though he has not announced, most people are treating him like a candidate for mayor. As usual he directly acknowledged the investigation against his campaign, again welcoming the scrutiny and emphasizing his transparency. CBID in the past worked closely with John Liu and his campaign and was impressed with the care his campaign took verifying donations. In fact, his campaign was one of the MOST cautious and this was long before the investigation. If what we saw was typical of his campaign, then I am sure he will be absolved with no problem. I personally always find it amazing that Liu's campaign gets all this scrutiny from the media while Bill de Blasio's past shady campaign practices (which involved SEVERAL candidates in addition to Bill, involved the entire Working Familiies Party, and WERE ACTUALLY FOUND ILLEGAL but not prosecuted as long as money was given back), and Quinn's massive slushgate scandal are being ignored. Of the three, there is no doubt in my mind that John Liu is the most honest and transparent. Maybe damning with faint praise comparing him to Quinn and de Blasio, but this is NYC politics and these are three of the front runners and so it is an appropriate comparison.
Sal Albanese also attended and gave a speech. I apologize to Sal for missing his speech. I was talking to John Liu during it.
Bill de Blasio came late and so spoke to only the last of us to leave. As always he gave a good speech but with little substance. As my wife says, he can talk a good line but has never really done anything. I tend to point out that for all his talk about supporting Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project ONLY because of the affordable housing, it is amazing that he hasn't said a word about it since the affordable housing part was dropped...as many predicted to de Blasio's face when he was such a supporter. If he is that easily fooled or that much of an enabler for unscrupulous developers, I don't want him as a mayor.
Scott Stringer also came. Let me just say he needs to tell different jokes when he comes over to Brooklyn. First time was funny, but we already know you're from Manhattan and you don't need to tell the getting your visa stamped joke every time. Stringer also gives a good speech but my wife remembers his role enabling Columbia's land grabs so we are somewhat skeptical about him as well. Still, when challenged about Columbia's land grabs he once did give me a somewhat convincing explanation for why he felt it was the best possible deal...somewhat convincing, I say, but "best deal possible" has been an excuse used by many for many really lousy and rather corrupt real estate deals in NYC and I think our politicians may need to redefine for themselves the words "best," "possible," and "deal." Too often people like de Blasio and Stringer (and let me be clear I consider Stringer MUCH better than de Blasio, but in this they seem similar) are like my former City Councilman David Yassky. Yassky, as my wife used to comment, seemed to surrender to developers before the negotiations even started, calling the surrender the "best possible deal." At a bare minimum it is a bad bargaining technique yet is too often used by NYC politicians when faced with developer money. read more »
So it seems that the drama in Park Slope - over whether or not the Co-Op food store there should or should not become the second such venture in the United States to boycott Israel and its products - the first and only is in Olympia, Washington, while several others have declined to participate - is finally coming to a head, with a vote on whether to have a vote scheduled tomorrow.
Having flown under the radar for quite some time, now, the political sphere is taking notice, and seems none too pleased.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, a candidate for Mayor in 2013, entered the discussion Sunday afternoon by calling the potential boycott “an outrage to our collective values as New Yorkers.”
“The inflammatory proposal to boycott products from the State of Israel is wrongheaded and an affront to American values and interests,” Mr. de Blasio said in a statement. “This movement—nationally and internationally—is a destructive force that must be stopped. It undermines America’s relationship with our steadfast partner in the fight against terrorism and our strongest ally in the Middle East.”
“These are businesses that should be run as businesses,” Bloomberg said at the St. Patrick’s Parade yesterday in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. “I certainly am adamantly opposed to boycotting Israeli products . . . Israel is a very important ally of America. We shouldn’t forget that.”
Me, I'm just wondering when this pointless exercise in leftier-than-thou will be over so the good people of the Co-Op can go back to back to, as one member told the Times, "just want[ing] really good dried fruit.”
I want to present a somewhat biased, but carefully thought out, view of Comptroller John Liu and the accusations against him. I know John Liu personally, though not well. He and my son get along great. He is a brilliant mind and he is one of the few politicians I know who genuinely listens to people and learns from people he talks to. During his City Council years he consistently ranked highest amongst his peers on Human Rights issues. He is solidly pro-union and has stood up to developers one behalf of communities more than most of the mayoral candidates. He is smart, progressive, energetic, and not afraid of taking difficult positions. I like him and I think he would make an excellent mayor. One of our best.
He is being accused of violating campaign finance laws. As a reformer I very much support a full investigation into these accusations. I do not intend to be an apologist if the accusations prove to have merit.
But I also look at these accusations in the context of what I know and have experienced about John Liu and also in the context of NYC politics in general. First off, I look at the accusations against John Liu in the context of the scandals that Christine Quinn and Bill de Blasio have been mired in. Both have, shall we say, very creatively shuffled money and have gotten huge quantities of developer money, clearly in exchange for the very pro-development, largely anti-community stands they take. In the context of NYC politics, what John Liu is accused of is minor compared with the slime surrounding Bill de Blasio and Christine Quinn. In my mind if Liu is taken down by these accusations it is unfair if de Blasio and Quinn aren't put through just as much scrutiny and are held equally accountable for their scandals. So far that has not been the case. The media seems to be far easier on Quinn and de Blasio than they are on Liu. read more »