de Blasio Visits Rockaway, Brings Money, Gets Applause



IMG_2285Mayor Bill de Blasio visited Rockaway Friday afternoon, joining the annual beach opening celebration and holding a press conference.  During his visit de Blasio announced that any surplus federal funding from the ongoing boardwalk rebuilding will be applied to other Rockaway projects.  de Blasio was well-received, with elected officials offering praise and attendees providing applause.  Elected officials joining de Blasio included Senators Joe Addabbo and James Sanders, Assembly Members Phil Goldfeder and Michele Titus, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Council Members Donovan Richards and Eric Ulrich.  Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver and EDC President Kyle Kimball also joined de Blasio.  Our photo gallery is here.

de Blasio has had a bumpy relationship with many in Rockaway, particularly in the western areas of Belle Harbor and Breezy Point.  Those hard feelings were set aside Friday, however, with the combination of the festive summer beach opening and notable progress on boardwalk rebuilding.  The audience of several hundred people applauded de Blasio’s boardwalk rebuilding and funding comments, although they sat silently as de Blasio praised FEMA.  They responded to Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’s request for “a round of applause for Mayor de Blasio”, prompting a smiling mayor to reply “that just shows the generosity of Queens.”IMG_2289

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Free Speech Zone



Out of sight, out of mind.  That notion applied to the few sign-holding Rockaway residents who appeared at Mayor de Blasio’s boardwalk press conference on Friday.  The four I spotted were relegated to a “free speech zone” invisible to Mayor de Blasio and most of the several hundred people in attendance.

Free Speech Zone 5/22/15

In this view from the camera riser, looking away from the lectern on the boardwalk where Mayor de Blasio spoke, the “free speech zone” is faintly visible deep in the center of the picture and close to the white trucks on Shore Front Parkway.  The “free speech zone” is also about 10-15 feet lower than the boardwalk, ensuring that the Mayor and other speakers could not see the “free speech zone”, much less the signs.

Police directed sign-holders to the “free speech zone,” despite objections.

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No More Mr. Nice Guy? (Updated)



Donovan Post-vote Gaggle 5-5-1511th Congressional District voters chose Republican/Conservative/Independence candidate Dan Donovan in Tuesdays’s special election.  Will Congressman Donovan remain the “nice guy” that many of his voters chose or adopt the Tea Party Zeitgeist of his new colleagues?

Donovan’s been in politics for 20 years, running and winning three elections for Staten Island District Attorney. He’s well known on Staten Island, especially to Republican voters who generally like him and regard him as a nice guy.  I saw that view frequently in covering the campaign.  In one instance, as I waited for a Donovan campaign appearance outside of a Staten Island grocery store, a 40-something woman headed to her car asked why I was there, cameras at the ready. Told that Donovan was expected shortly she paused and said “he knew my father. He came to my father’s wake, he’s really nice” before closing her car door and driving away.

Donovan Hindu Temple - Triple Shake

 

That nice guy persona will be tested as Donovan joins a Tea Party-driven House of Representatives. The majority of his Republican conference colleagues hold many harsher views than those expressed by Donovan throughout the campaign.  Will Donovan bend and vote with the Republican majority or proceed as a Republican outlier? Continue reading

NY11 Candidate Post-Voting Gaggles

Republican/Conservative/Independence Parties candidate Dan Donovan and Democratic/Working Families Parties candidate Vincent Gentile each voted this morning, with the press in attendance.  Each spoke with the press after voting and we have their full press gaggles.  Green Party candidate James Lane does not live in the district and is therefor not able to vote in today’s election.

Donovan:

Donovan was joined by his fiancé, Serena Stonick, in the Rosebank section of Staten Island.  Among Donovan’s comments: he voted for himself (but did not reveal which line), he’s “very optimistic”, low turnout is due to the unusual May date and not the circumstances around Michael Grimm’s resignation, he’s been “very blessed” by the voters of Staten Island and his campaign was “uplifting”.

Gentile:

Gentile voted at his alma mater, Fort Hamilton High School.  Among Gentile’s comments:  Donovan would be part of an “anti-New York City agenda” as part of the House Republican conference, Gentile knows Staten Island well from representing part of the borough during his three terms in the state senate and this is a “homecoming on Staten Island, not an introduction”, he’s a “Brooklynite” but considers himself an “adopted son” of Staten Island, the Garner case showed Dan Donovan to be “not upright” and “not an advocate” who “took a back seat” and he’s satisfied with the support he’s received from other Democratic elected officials.

Gentile On Voter Awareness

The 11th Congressional District special election tomorrow has posed a fundamental challenge for the candidates – getting voters attention and making them aware of the occurrence of the election.  With the campaign ending, I asked Democratic candidate Vincent Gentile about the level of awareness among voters he’s encountered.  We spoke as Gentile campaigned outside a grocery store in Graniteville.

Is A Vote For Lane A Vote For Donovan?

With Dan Donovan widely regarded as likely to win the 11th Congressional District special election tomorrow, supporters of Democrat Vincent Gentile fear that each vote for Green Party candidate James Lane is a lost, and wasted, potential Gentile vote.  Here’s Lane’s view of that notion.  We spoke as Lane campaigned outside the Whitehall ferry terminal.

Donovan On DA Elections & Special Elections

Republican candidate and three term Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan today described his three general election campaigns as similar to this congressional special election.  Donovan’s point was based on the calendar: his DA races have been in off-years (2003, 2007 and 2011) when there have been no other races to draw voters’ attention or induce them to vote.  We spoke as he knocked on doors in Dyker Heights today.

Donovan On Skelos Arrest

We asked Republican congressional candidate and Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan about the reported arrest of New York State Senate Temporary President & Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos and what it says about the party or state government.  We spoke as Donovan campaigned outside a Staten Island grocery store.

Donovan At Hindu Temple



It was a mix of colorful pageantry and practical politics as Dan Donovan visited the Staten Island Hindu Temple Friday evening.

Donovan Hindu Temple - Blessing

Donovan’s visit began in the upstairs temple area, as a Hindu priest chanted prayers and bestowed a blessing on Donovan.  At the conclusion of the blessing, the priest and temple leaders wrapped a shawl around Donovan, in what they described as a sign of respect.

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Photo Gallery: Giuliani & Donovan, Part Deux



Giuliani 4-30-15It was Rudy Giuliani Time today on Staten Island’s South Shore, as he swept through in support of Republican congressional candidate Dan Donovan.  Greeting shoppers at a Hylan Boulevard ShopRite, visiting the NYPD’s 122nd Precinct and stopping at the Arrochar Friendship Club Giuliani was an effective surrogate, drawing attention to Donovan and to the upcoming unusual Spring election on his second visit in five days for Donovan.  Our photo gallery of Giuliani’s visit is here.

Giuliani Donovan 4-30-15For Donovan, already well-known on Staten Island, the Giuliani visits have been an effective way to connect with his base.  Giuliani remains extraordinarily popular with them and using his star power to draw the base out, rather than attempting to sway non-Donovan voters, is a meaningful boost for Donovan.

Giuliani received an extremely warm reception in all three spots, with a few additional warm wishes shouted from passing cars as he and Donovan walked from the ShopRite to the 122nd Precinct.  “Rudy, we need you back” drew an appreciate chuckle.

Donovan Giuliani Borelli Ignizio

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