Jan 12th - 3:48 pm
Once upon a time, Mayor Michael Bloomberg tried to get all sorts of things past in Albany like congestion pricing and a West Side stadium for the Jets.
Each time he was thwarted by the Legislature and blame was heaped on Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
But, oh, how politics works!
Bloomberg finished up his State of the City address this afternoon and certainly the lede tomorrow will be his calls for a minimum wage increase, just as Silver pushed for on Jan. 3 before Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address.
Silver released this statement in response:
“I applaud and thank Mayor Bloomberg for joining our call to increase the minimum wage. As I have said, it is wrong to expect anyone – let alone working families – to be able to afford the cost of living today and invest in their future on a salary of $7.25 an hour. Increasing the minimum wage would benefit more than 14 percent of our workforce. Mayor Bloomberg’s commitment to helping the more than 1.2 million low wage workers in New York climb the ladder of financial security is welcome news.”
As Liz noted earlier, this comes after the relationships between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the two men have each become strained for different reasons.
Silver said in his speech that he wanted to fix the broken “ladder” to economic stability and equality for working New Yorkers.
Interestingly, Bloomberg employed a similar metaphor today: “But there’s one thing that in all fairness hasn’t gone up: the ability of those at the bottom of the economic ladder to pay for those essential needs.”
Update: Assembly spokesman Mike Whyland points out that for all the past Silver-Bloomberg contretemps, the two have come closer over the years over issues like microstamping for bullets, the bill to expand livery cab service outside of Manhattan along with other policy goals. That’s fair enough, but the minimum wage bill is easily the most significant legislation they have every agreed on.
Update X2: Bloomberg spokesman Mark Botnick also calls to point out that Bloomberg and Silver also worked closely on similarly significant issues like the charter schools issue and both times for mayoral control. So color me educated.
Jan 12th - 2:21 pm
…a winning combination.
Here’s one of two videos featured in Mayor Bloomberg’s State of the City address. It features cameos by several administration aides, the Irish step dance troupe that received a standing ovation for their pre-speech performance this afternoon, and New York City Mayor-for-Life Ed Koch.
Jan 12th - 1:40 pm
Mayor Bloomberg, who reportedly was taken by surprise by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State announcements on eradicating the fingerprint requirement for foodstamps and building the nation’s largest convention center/casino at the Aqueduct racetrack in Queens, is getting his revenge this afternoon.
In the State of the City address he is delivering right now in the Morris High School campus in the Bronx, Bloomberg sides with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver – going so far as to mention the Manhattan Democrat by name – in the speaker’s call to raise the minimum wage in New York.
“The minimum wage is another way to help those who can only find jobs with entry-level wages by incentivize and reward work,” Bloomberg says, according to a copy of his prepared remarks (which appears below). “Like the EITC, it helps those who are trying to help themselves. But setting the minimum wage is also a balancing act – setting it high enough so people can get by on it without having a negative economic impact.”
“Right now, I believe, we are slightly out of balance. The genius of the free market is not always perfect. Two of our neighbors – Connecticut and Massachusetts – have raised their minimum wage above the Federal standard to address higher costs of living.”
“And so while we would prefer the Federal government to act to keep us competitive, this year, we will join Speaker Shelly Silver in pushing for a responsible raise in the minimum wage. Our city just cannot afford to wait for Washington. Not when it comes to illegal guns, not when it comes to climate change, not when it comes to creating jobs and not when it comes to raising the minimum wage.”
To see Bloomberg siding with Silver – the man who helped kill two of his pet projects, the West Side stadium and congestion pricing – is pretty significant, although their relationship has improved, policy-wise, in recent years.
Neither Silver nor Bloomberg has gotten along terribly well lately with Cuomo, who has taken more of an interest in NYC affairs than his immediate predecessors. The institutional tension between the NYC mayor and the governor has escalated since Cuomo took office last January, a development due in part to the stark differences in style and political ideology. In short, Cuomo embraces political wheeling and dealing, while Bloomberg disdains politicking, even as he engages in it.
Silver reportedly struck a nerve (at least with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos) by outlining a detailed agenda – including the minimum wage hike – during his remarks before Cuomo’s State of the State. His relationship with Cuomo became even more strained this week over teacher performance evaluations.
UPDATE: It should be noted that Bloomberg gave Cuomo a shout-out for the passage of same-sex marriage, while also crediting his own policy advisor, John Feinblatt, whose wedding to partner Jonathan Mintz, Bloomberg officiated at Gracie. He also said he wants to work with the governor on pension reform. Also worth mentioning: There’s nary a word in the prepared speech about Aqueduct and the nation’s biggest convention center.
Jan 8th - 11:06 am
Mayors Against Illegal Guns, an organization bankrolled by Mayor Bloomberg, has released a video on the one-year anniversary of the Tucson shooting that left six people dead – including a 9-year-old girl born on 9/11 – and 13 injured, including Rep. Gabby Giffords, who is still recovering from a serious brain injury.
The video features survivors of the tragedy and some archival footage of Giffords before the shooting. The congresswoman does not make an appearance.
She and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, and her Tucson doctor are joining thousands at an evening candlelight vigil at the University of Arizona today. Kelly was expected to speak.
Bloomberg said the survivors in the video recently joined Mayors Against Illegal Guns in Washington to support the Fix Guns Checks Act. He released the following statement:
“One year ago, our nation was stunned by the murder of six innocent Americans in a shooting rampage in Tucson, Arizona. Today, we honor the memory of Christina-Taylor Green, Dorothy Morris, The Honorable John Roll, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwan Stoddard and Gabe Zimmerman. And we celebrate the lives of those who miraculously survived.”
“We are honored that survivors of the Tucson tragedy have joined our mission to keep illegal guns out of the hands of dangerous people.”
“After the Tucson shooting, President Obama said the nation needs a gun background check system that is ‘accurate, instant and comprehensive.’ We will continue to work with the President and Congress to make that goal a reality – it’s long overdue.”
“Until we get serious about enforcing our gun laws and making common-sense reforms, 34 more Americans will continue to be murdered with guns every day. Since the Tucson shootings, another 12,000 lives have been lost.”
Many of those murders could have – and should have – been prevented by keeping weapons out of the hands of dangerous people that should never have a firearm.”
Jan 3rd - 5:40 pm
Republican State Senator John Bonacic has come to the defense of Democratic Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, attacking the NYC DEP for their recent criticism of Hein’s letter to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg urging him to tour the Esopus creek and other waterways Hein says have been damaged by DEP policies.
“The Mayor is a business person and a pretty sensible guy. He can jet off to Bermuda for a weekend because of his brilliant business success. It is hardly unreasonable to ask him to drive 90 miles to see the chocolate milk-like water his DEP has turned the Esopus creek into,” Bonacic said.
One of the claims the DEP has made is that upstate has benefitted from $1.5 billion in economic development over the past two decades. To that Bonacic suggested that New York City residents are getting a bargain.
“Even though I live upstate and no longer have the benefit of Manhattan math like the DEP does,” said Bonacic, who was born in New York City, “$1.5 billion over 20 years comes out to $9.38 per year when you consider that 8 million New York City residents drink that water. That is an absolute bargain. If they bought their water from upstate by the gallon, and gave the money to watershed area residents whose lands were taken to create the reservoirs, the word ‘fracking’ would never pass the lips of anyone in my Senate District again because we would all be rich with water lease payments instead of potential gas lease payments,” Senator Bonacic said.
And Bonacic concluded the letter by suggesting that Hein’s letter was “eminently reasonable”, then proceeded to say the mayor is “no coward” and is “not afraid to confront issues”. He ends by saying that the Mayor ought to come upstate and suggested that maybe his staff is keeping him in the dark about the problems upstate.
Jan 3rd - 2:32 pm
YNN’s Beth Croughan sat down with Ulster County Executive Mike Hein today to talk about the letter he sent to Mayor Michael Bloomberg yesterday.
To recap, Hein accused DEP of “polluting our waterways and causing massive regional economic hardships.” He urged Mayor Bloomberg to pay a personal visit to Ulster County to “see firsthand the damage being wrought by NYC DEP’s broken policies and out-of-balance bureaucratic influence.”
Today, he didn’t back down from those comments, in fact he explained in detail the ways he feels the DEP is occupying his county.
“Let’s take a look at what an occupying nation does. An occupying nation brings in its own police force. It follows its own rules. It disobeys many of the local rules. Has no concern for the indigenious people. Problem is that we are the indigenious people. And in addition to that, they take out, and suck away a natural resource,” Hein said.
“That looks an awful lot like what’s going on here, and that should not take place anywhere in the United States of America. And it’s my great hope that if Mayor Bloomberg sees first hand what is going on, he will intercede.”
Update: NYC DEP spokesman Farrell Sklerov responded to Hein’s comments with the statement below, blasting the county executive for demeaning the service of DEP police officers in the afterwath of Hurricane Irene.
“Mike Hein’s comments comparing New York City to an ‘occupying nation’ are ridiculous and diminish the experience of people who actually experienced colonialism. The fact is, the DEP police force which patrols the watershed area routinely assists local law enforcement during emergencies. This was never more true than during Hurricane Irene when DEP officers hiked 10 miles on foot through washed out roads to evacuate 19 residents who were stranded in the Town of Shandaken.
Mike Hein should apologize to our law enforcement officers immediately for remarks that are offensive to the men and women who work together with local law enforcement and residents. The fact is that DEP is able to work with many other local leaders to solve problems in a cooperative matter, such as our team approach to removing hurricane debris and mitigating flooding hazards.”
Jan 3rd - 10:34 am
ICYMI, Liz B. spoke with United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew on the show last night, telling her that he’s open to Gov. Andrew Cuomo stepping on the increasingly contentious issue of New York City teacher evaluations.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, in the form of Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott in a New York Post op/ed, accuses the UFT of stalling on developing new guidelines that resulted in the city losing roughly $60 million in aid.
Mulgrew said he wouldn’t mind having Cuomo, who has sparred behind the scenes with Bloomberg over the last several months, becoming involved.
“All I know is, we’re hoping to get this agreement done,” he said. “And we’ve offered to go to the impartial person and present our cases and the city is saying they’re refusing to do that.”
Mulgrew added: “If it’s going to take someone from Albany to get involved and get this done, then so be it. But I think we’re hoping to get this done because it’s what we want to do on behalf of the children of New York City.”
The governor on Wednesday in his second State of the State address is expected to call for new school district accountability plan in the wake of the failure of some districts to meet the standards for the aid.
Jan 2nd - 2:26 pm
Ulster County Exectuive Mike Hein is upping the ante in his ongoing battle with the Bloomberg administration, accusing the NYC Department of Environmental Protection of acting like an “occupying nation” within his county, siphoning off precious drinking water for downstate residents without much thought or care about the impact on the community that is home to its watershed.
Hein, who just started his second four-year term, accused DEP of “polluting our waterways and causing massive regional economic hardships.” He urged Mayor Bloomberg to pay a personal visit to Ulster County to “see firsthand the damage being wrought by NYC DEP’s broken policies and out-of-balance bureaucratic influence.”
The county executive also said his constituents are essentially required to subsidize NYC water rates as the result of “no win” legal proceedings. Already cash-strapped rural towns have to choose between costly legal proceedings to defend against tax litigation and settling for less than the DEP’s fair share of property taxes, Hein alleged.
“The people of Ulster County fully appreciate the importance of providing water to their neighbors, the millions of NYC residents and businesses. That being said, the balance between providing that water and protecting our pristine environment, our economy and our taxpayers has been grossly manipulated by the NYC DEP and unfairly titled in NYC’s favor,” Hein wrote.
A Hein spokesman told CapTon producer Michael Johnson that nothing in particular spurred the county executive’s letter. He merely wanted to issue a personal appeal to the mayor in the latest chapter of an upstate-downstate struggle over water has been going on for years.
Most recently, Hein accused the city of breaking the law through unregulated releases of turbid water from the Ashokan Reservoir into the lower Esopus Creek. Last month, he sought the DEC’s intervention, filing a petition he said would be the precursor to a full-blown lawsuit.
Hein, whose position is relatively new (full disclosure: it was created by a charter revision commission headed by my father, Jerry Benjamin), has been speculated to harbor ambitions for higher office – perhaps Congress, although it’s unclear what the lines in his neck of the woods are going to look like after this round of redistricting is done. There has been some speculation that Rep. Maurice Hinchey’s district, NY-22, could be on the chopping block.
UPDATE: NYC DEP spokesman Farrell Sklerov just issued this response, calling the County Executive’s letter a cheap political stunt. Here’s the statement:
“This is not the first time County Executive Hein has resorted to cheap political stunts. Unfortunately, he rarely is supported by the facts. The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is actually an economic engine upstate, investing $1.5 billion over the past two decades in watershed protection efforts that support sustainable economic development with good jobs for local communities. We also contribute more than $130 million per year in direct tax revenue and employ nearly 1,000 upstate residents.
Not only that, but DEP sprang into action following the devastation of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, providing emergency help with recovery efforts and spending millions of dollars to help local businesses and homeowners get back on their feet. At the end of the day, DEP provides one billion gallons of water a day to nine million New Yorkers, including one million upstate, thousands of who are in Ulster County. By every measure the product is outstanding.”
Update 2: And Hein spokesman JJ Hanson just fired back.
“This is yet another example of the DEP’s disgraceful spin machine attempting to deflect from reality. It is not that far of a drive for the Mayor to visit Ulster County and see for himself what the facts actually are.”
Dec 20th - 11:35 am
ICYMI: Here’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” earlier today.
The mayor was on to ostensibly talk about the new agreement Cornell to bring a campus to New York City, but he was naturally asked at the end about his White House ambitions.
Bloomberg, a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-indepenedent, all but closed the door to launching a bid for the presidency in 2012
“I have a commitment for four years which I’m going to honor,” he said. “I have a great job.”
Bloomberg did take one the national issue of immigration, saying the country’s greatest strength is its constant influx of new citizens.
“If you want to fix the problem with the big decaying cities, bring in immigrants and I think you can fix that problem with very little cost,” he said. “If you want to have a better life, we have to keep adding to what made America great.”
Dec 19th - 12:06 pm
John Haggerty, the well-known political operative found guilty of siphoning money away from Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 2009 re-election campaign, was sentenced today to 1-1/3 to 4 years in prison.
The sentencing will likely send shock waves through the city’s political class in a saga that saw Bloomberg and his top lieutenants testify in the criminal case brought against Haggerty.
Haggerty had worked with Bloomberg during his bid for a third term by offering security for ballots, with money that was paid through a $1.1 million personal donation by the billionaire mayor to the Independence Party in order to fund poll-watching operations. Bloomberg had given $750,000, but prosecutors argued that Haggerty only spent $32,000 of that on a minor operation.
Here’s the lede from the Associated Press, which just moved:
A political operative convicted of bamboozling Mayor Michael Bloomberg out of hundreds of thousands of dollars was sentenced to prison Monday un a case that brought the billionaire
politician to the witness stand and gave the public a behind-the-scenes look at his campaign and City Hall. John Haggerty agreed to pay $750,000 in restitution to Bloomberg in addition to his prison term of 1 1/3 to 4 years.
Haggerty was a minor figure in Republican Carl Paladino’s gubernatorial campaign in 2010, but the Buffalo businessman stood by him despite some criticism over the hiring. Paladino’s campaign manager defended the hiring in The Times: “This is a campaign of junkyard dogs, not pedigreed poodles.”