Council Member Eric Ulrich got more than he bargained for this morning as supporters joining a protest he organized overwhelmed the press Q&A portion of that protest, driving Ulrich and other elected officials to abandon the effort.
Ulrich, a Council Member from Queens who’s running for mayor and long a critic of Mayor de Blasio, organized the rally and press conference to “protest Mayor de Blasio’s failed homeless policies.” Joined by State Senators Joe Addabbo, Jose Peralta and Tony Avella and Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, Ulrich decried the de Blasio administration’s actions around placement of homeless shelters, particularly in the Playland Motel in Rockaway and the Holiday Inn Express in Maspeth. Both efforts by the de Blasio administration have generated intense neighborhood opposition. It’s a good issue for Ulrich in many ways as many of his Rockaway constituents are strongly opposed to the administration’s efforts and it provides a means for greater exposure to the City’s full electorate.
His rally spun out of control as Ulrich began taking press questions, with several attendees jumping in to shout over Ulrich and Council Member Elizabeth Crowley. Those shouting attendees (including state senate candidate Michael Conigliaro) and the elected officials attending aren’t at odds, they all oppose the shelter placements, but the deep anger flowing out of many attendees overwhelmed the more measured complaints from Ulrich and the other electeds.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner Jimmy O’Neill attended a memorial for NYPD Detective Randolph Holder this afternoon, marking one year since Holder was murdered while on duty.
Held at PSA 5 in Harlem, the memorial included about 200 police officers and about a dozen members of Holders family. The memorial included remarks by Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner O’Neill, PBA President Pat Lynch and the current commanding officer of PSA 5, as well as Detective Holder’s father. The ceremony concluded with an unveiling of a plaque dedicated to Detective Holder’s memory.
There was no discussion of politics or the variety of issues facing the NYPD and the Mayor, with the speakers focused on Detective Holder and his family, along with the at times grave challenges that police officers regularly face.
Will the anger and discontent fueling Donald Trump’s presidential campaign energize a “yes” vote in next year’s ballot question of whether to convene a New York State constitutional convention?
First, some background. Article XIX of the New York State Constitution provides for a ballot question every twenty years of whether to convene a constitutional convention, often referred to as a “ConCon,” with the next such vote set for 2017. If a simple majority vote yes on convening a convention, delegates to a convention will be elected in November 2018 and the convention will convene in April 2019. Voters rejected conventions in 1997 and 1977. Voters did approve a convention in 1965 (on the ballot pursuant to a statutory mandate from the legislature) and it was held in 1967, although voters later rejected the revised constitution produced by that convention.
A convention has the authority to rewrite any part of, or the entire, state constitution, but any changes take effect only if subsequently approved by voters in a statewide election. It’s an alluring prospect to many, offering a chance for a favored change stymied by the governor and/or legislature as well as offering the possibility of a broad reshaping of state government. In reality though, the prospect of a convention has generated strong organized opposition from public employee unions, who rightly fear removal of the constitutional prohibition on reducing state employee pensions, and ultimately fallen to the fear of possible excess by a convention free to radically rewrite the Constitution.
Today’s Columbus Day Parade featured New York’s two most prominent Italian-American politicians, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio. Consistent with their general practice they marched separately. (In an unusual occurrence they marched together last month in the Labor Day Parade.)
Arriving for the start of the parade, Cuomo held a brief press gaggle and then marched with the leaders of the parade organizer, the Columbus Citizens Foundation. Cuomo ignored his own parade contingent, a group that included several elected officials and union leaders marching behind a “State of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo” banner and accompanied by a soundtruck. Cuomo waved to the crowd but only approached spectators and shook hands as he was departing. He departed midway through the parade route, after greeting Cardinal Dolan at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Continue reading →
The FDR Drive was a sad trail marked by periodic flashing lights today as fire companies briefly halted their activities, setting themselves in small groups along the Drive to salute their fallen brother. The remains of FDNY Battalion Chief Michael Fahy, killed yesterday in a Bronx house explosion, were moved today from the City Medical Examiner’s office to a Yonkers funeral home. Manhattan fire companies gathered in small groups scattered along the Drive, standing at attention and saluting as the ambulance carrying their colleague passed by.
Two engine companies, one ladder company and a battalion chief gathered at 90th Street, standing along both sides of the highway. The blustery winds and dark clouds were barely noticeable, pushed aside by the overwhelming sensory experience of a steady whoosh of passing cars. The firefighters lined up along the guard rail drew horn toots and waves from passing cars, along with an occasional supportive clenched fist. Some firefighters waved in return but their hands rarely made it above their sternum, seemingly weighed down by their loss.
There a false alarm of sorts, triggered by a real alarm. Firefighters briefly snapped to attention as two FDNY trucks, lights flashing, moved up the Drive. As it quickly became apparent that they were responding to an emergency and not part of Chief Fahy’s motorcade the firefighters relaxed. The momentary respite quickly gave way to a silent northbound side of the highway, with traffic blocked as the motorcade approached. Chatter ceased as the motorcade rolled past, firefighters at attention and southbound motorists staring. It was soon over, the fire fighters climbing back into their trucks and driving off as the sound of a fire truck siren and blairing air horn drifted across the river from Queens.
New York City Fire Department Battalion Chief Michael Fahy died in the line of duty Tuesday, killed in a Bronx house explosion. Mayor Bill de Blasio joined FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro and other officials at a New York Presbyterian/Allen Hospital press conference to announce Fahy’s death.
Shortly after the press conference Fahy’s remains were removed from the hospital and transported to the City Medical Examiner’s Office. More than 100 firefighters present stood at attention, saluting their fallen comrade as the FDNY ambulance carrying his remains passed, with many than joining a motorcade for the sad journey.
Joe Percoco, once among the most powerful New York political figures, appeared in federal court today to face criminal charges stemming from a pair of alleged bribery schemes. A longtime aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Percoco was one of nine men charged in connection with the alleged schemes. Three of those defendants, Percoco, SUNY Polytechnic Institute CEO Alain Kaloyeros and Peter Galbraith Kelly, appeared in federal court in Manhattan. The others appeared in federal court in Syracuse and Buffalo.
Percoco was visible to cameras for only a few seconds, despite a long day spent in the U.S. Attorney’s office and court. He was wholly out of sight until 4:30, when he appeared in a courtroom. Cameras are not permitted there, so his appearance in front of any press cameras was limited to a few second dash from the courthouse to a waiting car. Here’s a look:
Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio briefly put aside their differences this morning to jointly visit the site of Saturday night’s explosion in Chelsea. They did not make any public comments or answer press questions during their walk, however, instead holding separate press conferences. Cuomo spoke with the press at the site shortly before their walk, following an initial unannounced site visit by Cuomo, while de Blasio spoke with the press shortly afterwards at NYPD headquarters. de Blasio had also held a press conference Saturday night at the site.
The governor and mayor met just outside the security perimeter at 23rd Street and Seventh Avenue, hugging hello and then moving inside the security perimeter accompanied by aides, their own respective photographers and videographers and a small press pool. They spoke with a few small groups of residents and business owners/employees inside the perimeter as they made their way to and from the blast site. Most of the large press presence observed from outside the perimeter, about 100 yards from the blast site.
Cuomo and de Blasio wrapped up their walk with a visit to a Starbucks just outside the security zone, press excluded. Emerging from Starbucks the pair again hugged, amid a press crush, then parted.
William J. Bratton concluded his second term as New York City’s police commissioner Friday with a sun-dappled stroll through a cheering crowd of several hundred police officers and invited guests. Leaving the NYPD’s One Police Plaza headquarters with his wife Rikki Klieman, Bratton smiled, waved, shook hands and hugged his way across Police Plaza. Waiting at the end of the line were his successor, Chief of Department Jimmy O’Neill, and his boss, Mayor Bill de Blasio. With some final goodbyes Bratton and his wife mounted an antique fire engine for a short ride through the arch of the Municipal Building and onto Park Row.
Bratton leaves behind a re-energized New York City legacy, having led the NYPD through continued declines in crime over his 32 months in office, and stood as a central figure in the de Blasio administration’s public profile. He’s been an enormous political asset to the Mayor, both for his Department’s success in continuing to push crime rates down and for his essential public role as de Blasio’s prime voice on public safety. His polite Boston-accented bluntness has mostly been welcomed by the public, giving his “progressive” boss room to operate amidst a determined chorus of “hellholers”; critics who from de Blasio’s election declared that the City is destined to become a crime ridden hellhole with de Blasio in charge. Preventing that from actually occurring and fighting the creation of a public perception that it’s occurring are both vital and Bratton largely succeeded on both. He certainly has critics though, and a small but vocal group stationed themselves near the end of Bratton’s walk.
His successor Jimmy O’Neill is, so far in his career at least, not nearly as large a public personality and doesn’t display any evidence of a craving of the spotlight. The large post-Bratton vacuum will be filled, but whether it’s by Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner O’Neill or critics is, of course, to be determined.
2017 could be a rough ride for Mayor de Blasio as animal rights activists saddle up for a renewed campaign to end the use of carriage horses in Central Park. 150-200 activists loudly protested outside Gracie Mansion this evening, demanding de Blasio follow through on his 2013 promise to do so and expressing bitter disappointment over his failure to do nearly three years into his first term.
Fairly modest in number, activists working toward a carriage horse ban are highly organized and energetically devoted to their cause. Their loud visible presence hounded Christine Quinn in the 2013 mayoral campaign and it looks increasingly likely that, unless Mayor de Blasio comes through on his long-promised ban, he will receive similar attention in 2017.
It was a Sixth Avenue sauna for the annual Dominican Day Parade today, as marchers made their way up a hot and humid Sixth Avenue. The crowd was smaller than past years, perhaps due to the uncomfortable weather.
Mayor Bill de Blasio was the political headliner, joining numerous members of Congress, state legislators and city council members (including Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito) and fellow City-wide electeds Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Tish James. Among the legislators were State Senator Adriano Espaillat, Assembly Member Guillermo Linares and Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, each born in the Dominican Republic. de Blasio did not hold a Q&A or take press questions, and reporters and photographers were kept well away from the Mayor as he marched. Governor Andrew Cuomo, the honoree at the 2015 Dominican Day Parade breakfast, did not attend.
Orchard Beach, once nicknamed New York City’s Riviera for its broad crescent beach, hosted a visit from Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Chief of Department Jimmy O’Neill this afternoon. de Blasio and O’Neill, named by de Blasio as the next NYPD Commissioner, inched their way along the boardwalk for about 45 minutes posing for pictures with a steady flow of well-wishers.
It was a very positive reception for the pair, with no vocal negative reactions apparent. de Blasio, readily recognizable, maintained a steady refrain of “have you met our new commissioner” as he exchanged pleasantries with the stream of people approaching him. O’Neill appeared to enjoy the walk, although he was less absorbed in it than de Blasio. At times O’Neill, in uniform and still the highest ranking service member of the Department, appeared equally absorbed in what he’s done for decades – watching the goings-on around him and the operation of his Department.
Mayor de Blasio and his administration face a very large transition in Commissioner Bratton’s departure, larger than in any other commissioner replacement. Bratton arrived as a dominant public figure, well-known to New Yorkers from his prior stint as New York’s police commissioner and enormously comfortable in the public eye, and his public visibility has dwarfed that of all of de Blasio’s other commissioners. O’Neill is a very well regarded chief, but largely unknown to the public and a very different persona than Bratton. He may well succeed in both managing the NYPD and in the larger public role that comes with being commissioner, but his tenure will undoubtedly be very different as he moves into the post-Bratton vacuum.
This very small moment in O’Neill’s rollout as commissioner and de Blasio’s simultaneous lead up to a reelection campaign was a success, moving both efforts incrementally forward. As they departed de Blasio commented to O”Neill on the warm reception, optimistically emphasizing that “they want you to succeed.”
Council Member Eric Ulrich harshly condemned the City’s Build It Back program Monday, calling for the resignation of Amy Peterson, the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery Operations who oversees Build It Back. Speaking at a press conference on Beach 117th Street in Rockaway, Ulrich described Build It Back as hopelessly failing with little visible prospect of success.
The owner of the home Ulrich spoke in front of has been displaced since February, having moved out in anticipation of substantial work through Build It Back. Shortly after the owner relocated Build It Back erected a fence, effectively locking out the homeowner and preparing the property for that work. According to Ulrich and the daughter of the homeowner that work has not yet begun, however. Ulrich further described this homeowner’s experience as common, saying that many of his constituents are in similar circumstances.