NYC Electeds Demand Federal Assistance For Puerto Rico (Updated)



IMG_3161New York City’s three citywide elected officials – Mayor Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate Tish James and Comptroller Scott Stringer – and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito joined a press conference today demanding federal action to address Puerto Rico’s deep fiscal and financial crisis.  Puerto Rico’s government and related public authorities owe more than $70 billion to creditors, an amount which Puerto Rico’s governor recently termed “unpayable”, with looming large payments pushing the Commonwealth toward a critical moment.

The City Hall Plaza press conference, hosted by the Hispanic Federation, called for a laundry list of federal actions, including implementing “a federal investment plan”, eliminating Jones Act requirements that goods shipped between Puerto Rico and other places in America be transported on U.S. ships with U.S. crews, changing the U.S. bankruptcy code to allow Puerto Rico and its government related enterprises to file bankruptcy petitions and urging President Obama to “explore a Federal Reserve loan” and “oppose severe austerity.”

Puerto Rico’s crisis is decades in the making.  With a shrinking population and a shrinking economy Puerto Rico has long borrowed to fund operating costs.  As described in a recent report commissioned by the Puerto Rican government, Puerto Rico’s fiscal shortcomings have been masked and ultimately worsened by poor fiscal and accounting practices.

The press conference produced an infrequent appearance of all three citywide elected officials and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito – the “CW3+MMV”, perhaps – at an event.  There appeared to be polite interaction among them, but no sign of great warmth.

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Cuomo Gaggles: The Point Breeze Edition (Updated)

Governor Andrew Cuomo came to Breezy Point this afternoon, holding a bill signing ceremony at the Point Breeze Clubhouse.  Joined by State Senator Joe Addabbo and State Assembly Member Phil Goldfeder, Cuomo signed into law a bill extending an exemption for Breezy Point residents from an pre-existing requirement that they obtain a special permit from New York City for rebuilding or repairs.  Cuomo also announced a state study of raising the elevation of homes in Breezy Point.

Cuomo spoke with the press following the signing ceremony.  Question topics included Bill de Blasio (multiple times), Uber, Cuomo’s recently increased rate of public appearances, concerns expressed by district attorneys on Cuomo’s executive order appointing the NYS attorney general as a special prosecutor in all police killings of unarmed civilians and the City’s Sandy recovery programs.

Update – Uber:

Cuomo suggested that his administration will wade into the escalating confrontation between Uber and the de Blasio administration:

Bronx Love: The Cuomo/de Blasio Edition

IMG_3065There was lots of Bronx love tonight for Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio – but no sign of any love between them as they separately appeared at the Bronx County Democratic Committee dinner.

Cuomo arrived slightly after his scheduled 7:00 speech time, mixing for a few minutes.  He stayed for a short while after his speech, listening to Carl Heastie speak before departing.  He spoke briefly with a few reporters, concluding that Q&A and driving off just before 8:00.  Mayor de Blasio, scheduled to speak at 7:30, arrived about 5-10 minutes after Cuomo’s departure.

Cuomo was asked about his continuing friction with the Mayor and what’s evolved into mutual silent treatment.  “He is not here, I’m going to another event” said the governor about 20 minutes after the scheduled start time of the mayor’s speech, adding after a pause “I’m sure I’ll see him soon.”  The governor appeared relaxed and his additional comments were a bit empathetic, but he didn’t give any indication that improved relations are in the offing.

The Mayor spent close to 30 minutes greeting well-wishers after his speech, but left without answering any questions from trailing reporters.  His spokesperson said that Cuomo and de Blasio “will speak in the near future”, but refused to say when or where.

While the mini-drama is riveting, and offers the prospect of a good picture whenever the two finally meet, it’s beyond time for them to end it.  Their real policy and political differences won’t be resolved by a simple meeting, but the diminishment that they’re now both receiving can end.  Both look increasingly petty, but there’s a simple way for at least one of them to staunch that diminution and look “grown up” – just drive over to the other’s office, go in and say hello.

Cuomo On de Blasio

We work, we do our jobs.  That was the essence of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s response when asked today about his well-publicized friction with Mayor Bill de Blasio.

He confirmed that he has not spoken with Mayor de Blasio recently.  Both men are expected to attend a Bronx County Democratic Committee dinner tonight, with speeches scheduled 30 minutes apart.

Here’s what he had to say:

Cuomo spoke during a Q&A at Hostos Community College – the full Q&A is here.

Cuomo Legal Defense Fees

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s campaign committee revealed yesterday that it has paid an additional $100,000 to Cuomo’s criminal defense lawyers.  In a required semi-annual filing Cuomo’s campaign listed a June 10th $100,000 payment to Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello.  Cuomo was asked about that payment, and whether it means “the Executive Chamber is being targeted by the U.S. Attorney investigation” reported to be underway by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Cuomo replied that the payment was “just another installment in the legal fees that were for services last year, basically for document production.”  He did not provide any more description or detail, so it’s unclear what services his outside counsel have provided.  His reference to the payment being for “services last year” raises additional questions of what work those lawyers have performed in the past 6 1/2 months.  It also suggests an omission from Cuomo’s January campaign finance filing.  Campaigns are required to report, on Schedule N of their semi-annual reports, “outstanding liabilities for goods or services received.”  Cuomo’s January filing reported four items on it’s Schedule N, but none to Morvillo Abramowitz.  If the services covered by the June payment were in fact performed in 2014, and therefor prior to the January 2015 report, the Cuomo campaign’s debt should have been reported in January.

Here’s Cuomo’s full response:

Cuomo spoke during a Q&A at Hostos Community College – the full Q&A is here.

Cuomo Gaggles: The Bronx Edition

His criminal defense lawyer legal fees, Donald Trump, homelessness, the MTA and his “friend” feud.  It was a regular Bronx day for Governor Andrew Cuomo as he spoke with the press this morning.  Cuomo appeared at the South Bronx’s Hostos Community College to sign legislation intended to protect nail salon workers and to announce a state government task force “to root out worker exploitation issues in multiple industries in New York State.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento joined Cuomo as he spoke with the press, although neither had any questions directed their way.  Here’s Cuomo’s full post-ceremony gaggle:

de Blasio Press Q&A: The 20,000 Units Edition



Mayor Bill de Blasio today touted a high level of affordable housing activity in the City, reporting that the City “financed the creation and preservation of 20,325 affordable apartments and homes during fiscal year 2015.”  de Blasio spoke at a Bronx press conference, accompanied by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and several Bronx elected officials including Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Congressman Jose E. Serrano, State Senator Jose M. Serrano and Assembly Members Luis Sepulveda, Michael Blake and Latoya Joyner.

Puerto Rico:

Mayor de Blasio and Council Speaker Mark-Viverito both expressed support for federal government action to address Puerto Rico’s deep fiscal crisis.  de Blasio suggested federal financial assistance, urging the federal government to “take responsibility” for resolving the crisis and that it has both the “obligation” and “capacity” to do so.  Mark-Viverito suggested a change in federal bankruptcy law to allow Puerto Rico to file a bankruptcy petition and operate as a debtor under federal bankruptcy law (Puerto Rico, like states, is not eligible to do so).  Here are their full answers, including the Spanish portion of Mark-Viverito’s.

de Blasio v. NY Post:

The NY Post has extensively covered a single homeless man in recent days, detailing his public urination and other troubling behavior.  Here’s the Post and the Mayor today, beginning with a mayoral snap.

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Ticker Tape Parade Sights & Sounds (Updated)



IMG_2847They waved, they screamed, they loved.  Hundreds of thousands of fans enveloped the U.S. women’s national soccer team in a blanket of adoration Friday, as the team was feted in a ticker tape parade up Broadway and ceremony at City Hall Plaza.  The volume of paper raining down was modest in this post-ticker tape era, but the sound volume of the crowd was immense as screams and shouts of “Abby” and “I love you” filled the air.

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Click here for our photo gallery.

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Cuomo Parade Gaggle

Governor Andrew Cuomo briefly spoke with the press this morning, just ahead of the ticker tape parade for the U.S. women’s national soccer team.  Cuomo arrived just before his gaggle and departed directly from the end of the parade, not joining Mayor de Blasio’s pre-parade reception for the team nor the large ceremony held in City Hall plaza after the parade.  Cuomo and de Blasio did not interact or appear together during the parade.

Cuomo dismissed the ongoing friction between he and the mayor as “soap opera that you want to cover because you guys like the drama.”  He confirmed that he has not spoken with the mayor since de Blasio returned from vacation this week, and said that he had no current plans to do so.  He responded to parade questions with references to the Women’s Equality Party and the Women’s Equality Agenda, saying that “here in New York we have a very big movement about women’s empowerment.”

There was a bit of inter-journalist friction as the initial questioner did not willingly yield the floor.

de Blasio On Cuomo v. de Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio today stood fast on his pre-vacation comments about Governor Andrew Cuomo and their relationship, or lack thereof.  Returning from vacation, his off-topic Q&A at a press conference (focused on removing construction sheds from NYCHA facilities) was dominated by questions about the governor and their relationship.  de Blasio appeared careful to not increase the tension between them, but he also appeared fully comfortable with his pre-vacation comments.

Here are the portions of the Q&A in which the mayor was repeatedly asked about Governor Cuomo and their relationship:

Cuomo Grants “Special Prosecutor” Powers To Schneiderman (Updated)



Schneiderman & Cuomo 7-8-15Governor Andrew Cuomo today issued an executive order directing the New York State attorney general “to investigate and, if warranted, prosecute certain matters involving the death of an unarmed civilian … caused by a law enforcement officer.”  Cuomo’s executive order comes after significant public demands for such an action, with growing dissatisfaction by many of those calling for such action that Cuomo had not yet acted.  He signed the executive order during a press conference/order signing ceremony at Manhattan’s John Jay College.  (Our press conference photo gallery is here.)

Cuomo was joined by a group of women whose sons have died at the hands of police, including Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner, Constance Malcolm, mother of Ramarley Graham, Iris Baez, mother of Anthony Baez, Valerie Bell, mother of Sean Bell and Hawa Bah, mother of Mohamed Bah, who have been the public face of the push for a special prosecutor.  Cuomo recently met with them after Carr and Malcolm published an op-ed accusing him of “backtracking” on his promises.

Cuomo & Valerie Bell 7-8-15

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Friends – A Video Montage (Updated)

Here’s a brief video look back at Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo over their shared time in office.  Their relationship, bumpy since Mayor de Blasio took office despite the oft-touted “friendship” from their time at HUD, has devolved into off-the-record sniping by the governor and on-the-record complaints by the mayor.  It’s not clear how, or if, the current friction ends, but with 2 1/2 years remaining in Mayor de Blasio’s term, and 3 1/2 in Governor Cuomo’s, there’s no escaping each other.

These excerpts and outtakes illustrate the early hoping-against-hope tact of Mayor de Blasio; publicly emphasizing their existing relationship and some putative shared policy policy goals.  As has been made painfully clear neither of those elements appear meaningful to the governor and, notwithstanding some moments of levity, time and retrospect treat many of Mayor de Blasio’s words harshly.