Ulrich Condemns Build It Back (Updated)

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.

Ulrich Rockaway 7-18-16

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Ulrich On Trump: Part 2 (Updated)

Eric Ulrich remains opposed to Donald Trump.  The Republican mayoral candidate and New York City Council Member is one of the few Republican elected officials in New York City, but he’s not supporting the about-to-be Republican presidential nominee.  Ulrich supported John Kasich in the New York Republican primary.  Like Kasich, he has not moved toward Trump in the months since Kasich ended his campaign.

Speaking after a press conference in which Ulrich harshly criticized Mayor de Blasio’s management of the City’s Sandy recovery Build It Back program, Ulrich continued his prior criticism of Trump, adding that “I don’t know who I’m voting for in November.”  An aversion to Trump is one area of agreement between potential 2017 rivals de Blasio and Ulrich.

de Blasio Press Q&A: The Tampon & Pad Edition

de Blasio Press Conference 7-13-16Mayor Bill de Blasio celebrated the passage of three City Council bills increasing access to tampons and pads in schools, jails and shelters with a Tuesday signing ceremony and press conference.  City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council Members Julissa Ferreras-Copeland and Vanessa Gibson and Assembly Member Michael Blake joined de Blasio at the High School of Violin and Dance in the Bronx.

de Blasio Press Conference 7-13-16

After remarks by the elected officials, following an introduction by 11th grader Mayelin Sanchez, de Blasio sat for the actual bill signing.    He then returned to the lectern for a lengthy press Q&A.

Here is his full press Q&A, split into on and off topic portions:

 

Photo Gallery:

Our full bill signing and press conference photo gallery is here.

de Blasio Press Conference 7-13-16

Support, But No Mention

Governor Andrew Cuomo supports former opponent Zephyr Teachout in her current congressional campaign, but he couldn’t quite mention her name today.  Asked at an unrelated press conference today whether he’ll endorse Teachout and whether he “hope[s] that she wins” Cuomo replied flatly that “I will support the Democratic nominee for Congress in that District … short answer, yes.”  Teachout won the 19th Congressional District Democratic primary in June and faces 2006 Republican gubernatorial candidate John Faso in November’s general election.

Teachout, of course, was Cuomo’s 2014 Democratic primary opponent, garnering an impressive 33% of the vote with a shoestring campaign.  Cuomo did his best to ignore her candidacy, not actively campaigning until the weekend before the 2014 primary.  In a fitting dramatic twist, Cuomo then literally ignored her when she approached him at a parade as he began overtly campaigning.

Here’s Cuomo’s response today:

Cuomo Press Q&A: Hostos, Again

Governor Andrew Cuomo returned today to Hostos Community College, a favored Bronx press conference site for Cuomo, to announce $30 million in additional funding for the “Urban Youth Jobs Program.”  That program provides tax credits of up to $5,000 to employers for each qualified newly-hired employee ages 16-24.  Governor Cuomo was joined by numerous Bronx elected officials, including Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., State Senators Jose Serrano and Gustavo Rivera, Assembly Members Jose Rivera, Carmen Arroyo, Marcos Crespo, Michael Blake, Victor Pichardo, and Michael Bennedetto and Council Members Jimmy Vacca and Rafael Salamanca.

Topics in a post-announcement press Q&A included whether Cuomo will support Bronx Borough President, and Cuomo ally, Ruben Diaz Jr. in a 2017 mayoral run against Bill de Blasio, details on a state program to fund the green card application fees of 2,000 applicants, delays in the Cuomo administration response to the still unfolding Hoosick Falls drinking water catastrophe, whether Cuomo will work to turn control of the state senate to the Democrats, whether Cuomo will sign recently- passed AirBnB legislation, the State’s response to increasingly severe occurrences of K2/spice overdoses and whether he will support 2014 gubernatorial opponent Zephyr Teachout in her congressional campaign.  As Cuomo departed he also briefly responded to a question on whether Heastie and Diaz will join the governor’s “Adirondack Challenge” this weekend.

Here’s the full Q&A:

Photo Gallery: Wright Concession

Wright Concession 6-30-16Assembly Member Keith Wright brought his campaign for the Congressional seat held by Charles Rangel to a close this afternoon, conceding defeat to Adriano Espaillat in a Harlem press conference. Joined by about 20 elected officials, including Rangel, and two of the other candidates in the race, Wright and Espaillat made a public display of unity standing in front of Sylvia’s restaurant in Harlem as Wright acknowledged that Espaillat’s 1,200 vote lead in the preliminary vote totals would hold through counting of absentee and affidavit ballots and the final canvassing of poll site voting machines.

Wright Concession 6-30-16

Rangel, who strongly supported longtime ally Wright in the race, anchored the joint appearance with kind words for both men.  Other elected officials attending included Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Public Advocate Tish James, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and state and city legislators from the Bronx and Manhattan.

Our full photo gallery is available here.

Wright & Rangel On Espaillat Voter Suppression Allegations

13th Congressional District candidate Keith Wright condemned reported activity of a PAC supporting rival candidate Adriano Espaillat which has been characterized as voter suppression.  Speaking as he accompanied Congressman Charles Rangel to vote today, Wright described those actions as having “brought up all of the ghosts of the civil rights movement … all of the ghosts of Jim Crowism … all of the ghosts of poll taxes” and declared that such tactics have “no place at all in any political activities here in this community.”  Rangel expressed surprise that “they are … so stupid to actually put it in writing,” describing such actions as “shameful.”

Rangel Votes

Rangel Votes 6-28-16“I couldn’t find my name.  But I’m so glad I did find his name” said Congressman Charles Rangel after voting in his first congressional election in more than 45 years in which he was not a candidate.  The “his” was Assembly Member Keith Wright, a longtime Rangel ally whom Rangel has endorsed as 13th Congressional District Democrats select a nominee to replace Rangel.

Rangel Votes 6-28-16Rangel arrived at Harlem’s P.S. 175 to vote accompanied by his wife Alma and Wright.  Appearing a few minutes ahead of schedule, Rangel spoke with the press both before and after voting, expressing support for Wright, but clearly not in a rush to leave office or the spotlight.  Rangel loves the camera and it loves him right back, as shown in the two press Q&A’s Rangel did this morning, one as he arrived and a second after voting.

Many of the questions focused on Rangel’s emotions as a successor is selected and on his post-Congress plans, but he and Wright also addressed allegations that supporters of rival Adriano Espaillat have sought to suppress voting by African American voters in the District.

Here are Rangel’s two press Q&A’s:

Arrival:

Departure:

 

Update – Photo Gallery:

Our photo gallery is available here.

Espaillat Caravan

Espaillat Broadway Caravan 6-25-16State Senator Adriano Espaillat led a group of supporters up Broadway Saturday afternoon, looking for attention and votes ahead of Tuesday’s 13th Congressional District primary.  The Espaillat caravan included about 50-75 walkers and 20-25 cars, all led by the flag-bedecked Espaillat campaign bus.  The caravan began with a public endorsement of Espaillat by State Senator Bill Perkins who, together with Council Members Ydanis Rodriguez and Mark Levine, joined Espaillat for the walk uptown.

Espaillat Broadway Caravan 6-25-16

The race to succeed Charles Rangel has become increasingly racially driven in the past several days, with numerous allegations of impropriety.  In a brief pre-walk Q&A with reporters Perkins dismissed allegations by Assembly Member Keith Wright that Espaillat and his supporters are trying to suppress African American voter participation in the Tuesday election.  Espaillat stood by silently as Perkins spoke, only offering that he’s asked the Department of Justice to monitor the election in order to “make sure that everybody has access to vote unimpeded.”

Espaillat Broadway Caravan 6-25-16

Espaillat’s reception was good, but not overwhelming, as he walked up Broadway from 135th.  The very modest reaction in the first 10-15 blocks increased as he passed through the northern stretch of Harlem and into the heavily Dominican Washington Heights.  Cheers and shouts rang out further uptown, with some downtown drivers rolling down their windows to shake hands with the uptown traveling candidate.  There were no signs or displays of support for any of the many other candidates in this election.  The only contrary expression (at least as far as a non-Spanish speaking reporter could discern) was a small group of men near 175th Street chanting “Trump, Trump, Trump.”

Our full photo gallery is here.

Cuomo Q&A: The Anti-Opioid Edition

Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke with the press this afternoon, following a Staten Island bill signing ceremony marking the passage of a law intended to combat the growing scourge of opioid addiction.  This was Cuomo’s third such appearance of the day, preceded by visits to Buffalo and Farmingdale.

Question topics included Cuomo’s assessment of the recently completed legislative session, details of the anti-opioid law signed today, Cuomo’s recent demand that the MTA address a rise in reported sexual assaults in the subway system and the reported lane Lincoln Tunnel lane closure by NYPD officers ensnared in a corruption investigation.

Our photo gallery from Cuomo’s appearance is here.

MTA & Port Authority Tussles

In recent days Governor Andrew Cuomo has publicly engaged two of the massive transportation agencies he controls on hot button topics, demanding in an open letter that the MTA act to address a recent spike in sexual assaults reported as occurring on the New York City subway system and demanding answers from the Port Authority on a report that NYPD officials ensnared in a corruption investigation arranged for a special escort, with a lane closure, through the Lincoln Tunnel.

On the MTA, Cuomo began with a general discussion of the ongoing capital spending on the subway system and a declaration that “first and foremost mass transit has to be safe.”  He appears open to adding MTA police or State Troopers to the subway system, but left it open and subject to an MTA determination and possible request.  (The New York City Police Department, under the mayor, patrols the subway and is primarily responsible for law enforcement there.  The MTA Police is a force of about 700 which patrols the Metro-North and Long Island Railroads and the MTA’s bridges and tunnels.)   The logistical limitations of the the MTA Police and State Police seem to preclude any major such effort.  The overlay of the long-running Cuomo/de Blasio frictions would add an additional political layer of complications.  Cuomo did not respond to the portion of my question asking whether he views the NYPD’s performance in addressing subway system sexual assaults as inadequate.

I also asked Cuomo whether he’s determined if the news reports of a lane closure in the Lincoln Tunnel at the behest of NYPD officials now ensnared in a corruption investigation are accurate and, if so, what the  consequences will be.  The Lincoln Tunnel is run by the Port Authority and the Port Authority Police, a force wholly separate from the NYPD.  Any lane closure or other disruption would presumably require the actions or acquiescence of the PAPD. The bi-state Port Authority is controlled jointly by Governor Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has some familiarity with lane closures.

Cuomo does not yet have an answer on the alleged lane closure, nor a time frame for receiving one.  When asked for a time frame for answers Cuomo declined, saying only that while he wants an answer he does not want to interfere in an ongoing investigation.

Cuomo spoke with the press following an appearance in Staten Island promoting measures to combat opioid addiction.

Cuomo’s full press Q&A is here.

Photo Gallery: Anti-Trump Protest

IMG_7348Chants of “Trump, you are not my friend” and “Donald Trump, for Wall Street” rang out this afternoon in front of Trump Tower as 40 protesters denounced Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.  Among the topics addressed by speakers at the protest, organized by the Hedge Clippers campaign, were Trump’s fundraiser scheduled for tonight and his previous claims that he would not raise “corrupt” money, Trump’s comments on the Orlando massacre and the lack of any subsequent Congressional action on guns, the lack of action on Puerto Rico’s fiscal crisis and Trump’s recent attempts to describe himself as a friend of the LGBTQ community.  Singled out for specific condemnation were Trump fundraisers Steven Feinberg, Wilbur Ross and John Paulson.

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Three counter-prostesters joined the excitement, with two working their way into the group and holding their “Make America Great Again” hats out for the cameras.  The smaller and more successful of the two worked her way to the front of the group, sparking some blocking and had her hat snatched and tossed aside.  A third counter-protester appeared at the conclusion of the protest, carrying a sign declaring that “Obama + Hillary Support Slavery.”  It seemed to be Obamacare related, but that’s not entirely clear.

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Our full photo gallery is here.

Photo Gallery: Mark-Viverito At Trump Tower

IMG_7313New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito went to Donald Trump’s home and office Monday, holding a press conference outside Trump Tower to condemn Trump’s claims that a federal judge hearing a lawsuit focused on “Trump University” could not be fair to Trump because, in Trump’s words, “[h]e’s a Mexican.”  Mark-Viverito was joined by Council Member Carlos Menchaca, the first Mexican-American elected official in New York City.

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Our full photo gallery is here.

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