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The Bobster 02-28-2017 08:23 AM

Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

De Blasio admits he pulls strings at city agencies for friends
By Rich Calder
February 28, 2017 | 7:47am

Mayor Bill de Blasio admitted Monday he has a long history of doing favors for community members who need help with city business — but claims it’s OK because he “never pressures” his department heads. :rolleyes:

During his first interview since being grilled Friday by federal prosecutors reviewing his campaign fundraising, de Blasio tried to paint a rosy picture of the more than four-hour meeting by telling NY1 it went “fine.”

However, he declined to discuss specifics about the session. Hizzoner also would neither confirm nor deny various media reports over the weekend that he helped Brooklyn Rabbi Moishe Indig, who raised money for him, in getting the Buildings Department in 2014 to lift a partial vacate order at a Hasidic school.

“I am not going to go into the tick-tock of it all,” said de Blasio.

However, de Blasio did not deny picking up the phone in the past to try to remove bureaucratic red tape on behalf of certain individuals — dating back to his years holding public office before he became mayor.

“I will tell you, when I was a City Council member, public advocate and again as mayor, I believe it is perfectly appropriate to put an issue on the agency’s plate, and the agency has to make the decision they see as right,” de Blasio said.

Department heads might not directly answer to council members and the public advocate — but they answer to the mayor.

When asked by a Post reporter whether de Blasio’s remarks were contradictory because the mayor calls the shots at City Hall, his spokesman Eric Phillips fired back, “You’re being absurd if you think he should make every agency decision in a 350,000-person bureaucracy.”

The mayor also denied recent allegations by John Ciafone, the husband of production company Broadway Stages owner Gina Argento, that his wife was pressured into delivering big-buck donations to de Blasio’s 2013 mayoral campaign and now-shuttered nonprofit Campaign for One New York.

“I would never pressure anyone,” the mayor said. :rolleyes:

De Blasio was questioned for about 4½ hours Friday during a long*-anticipated sit*-down with prosecutors from Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara’s office.

De Blasio defended taking off much of Wednesday and Thursday to prepare for the meeting, claiming the city still operated fine because he can “walk and chew gum” at the same time.

He said he believes “that all the topics” prosecutors raised “were covered” and that the session went well.

“I was happy to go in and recount the facts,” he said. “It was fine.”

The Bobster 02-28-2017 08:25 AM

Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

De Blasio to call for 90 new homeless shelters
By Michael Gartland
February 28, 2017 | 3:24am

Mayor de Blasio will reportedly call for 90 homeless shelters to be built all around the city, as part of a plan expected to be announced Tuesday.

In addition to that measure, reported by The New York Times, a source told The Post that de Blasio intends to roll out an “equity plan” mandating neighborhoods house comparable numbers of homeless people.

The announcement will come as City Council members push several proposals seeking to bring relief to areas that are overburdened with homeless shelters, jails and foster homes.

Those neighborhoods — which include Brooklyn’s Brownsville, the South Bronx and Harlem — are home to a disproportionate number of facilities that house “residential beds,” according to a council report released on Monday.

The new measures, which are intended to revamp the city’s 1989 Fair Share initiative, would prohibit agencies from placing new facilities in already-saturated neighborhoods.

The Bobster 02-28-2017 05:16 PM

Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

De Blasio’s new homeless plan will barely cut shelter population
By Yoav Gonen
February 28, 2017 | 2:51pm

After struggling for three years to contain the growing crisis, Mayor de Blasio on Tuesday unveiled a wide-ranging plan to tackle record-high homelessness, but one that aims to reduce the shelter population by just 4 percent over the next five years. :rolleyes:

That means moving 500 homeless individuals out of shelters per year — or 2,500 out of roughly 60,000 individuals — through 2021.

The plan, detailed in a 128-page report that makes no mention of the price tag, includes moving roughly 17,500 homeless people out of 360 commercial hotels or regular apartment complexes with units reserved for the homeless by 2023.

Those lost units will be replaced by 90 new shelters opened over the next five years — 25 of them through new construction — and with a focus on distributing them more equitably throughout the city.

The report cautions that since many of the units to be replaced are in The Bronx and central Brooklyn, and many of the hotels are in Queens, those neighborhoods “should expect new shelters to open in their neighborhoods.”

An additional 30 existing shelters will be expanded over a 7-year period, according to the plan.

“There are no silver bullets here. We will not solve this crisis over night. It will be a long, hard fight,” says the plan, which is titled “Turning the Tide of Homelessness in New York City.”

Officials acknowledge the political challenges caused by the concerns that typically greet the siting of shelters throughout the city, but note that the burden isn’t equally shared across the city.

The report says seven community districts have no shelters, while many others have just a few — and calls for a “borough-based” solution that officials acknowledge will take time to implement.

“Ultimately, the city plans to develop community districts’ shelter capacity consistent with their residents’ need for shelter, while ensuring that communities do their fair share,” the report reads. “Our goal will be to keep residents in the boroughs they called home when possible, so that breadwinners do not lose jobs, children do not have to switch schools or experience long commutes and people can also be close to their medical needs and preferred places of worship.”

Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Queens) said the two biggest obstacles to siting the 90 shelters will be winning residents’ hearts and minds and finding locations that make sense.

“There are going to be some communities that no matter what you do, they’re going to have a NIMBY attitude,” he said, short for “Not in my backyard.”

“It’s the misconception that all homeless people are horrible people,” added Richards.

Finding property will also be tough, and when the city does, location-specific logistics could also be a headache.

Richards used the example of putting an all men’s shelter across the street from a girl’s school as a likely non-starter for residents.

The report says the city knows it needs to improve its communication with residents before opposition foments — which it will do in part by providing 30 days’ notice to community leaders of any new shelter sitings.

The Bobster 02-28-2017 05:42 PM

Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

De Blasio hits up ‘regular’ NYers for donations after being grilled by feds
By Rich Calder
February 27, 2017 | 10:11pm | Updated

Mayor de Blasio, who faces multiple pay-to-play probes over whether he provided political favors to fat-cat donors, sent out a fundraising solicitation Monday claiming he really wants donations from regular New Yorkers. :rolleyes:

The e-mail correspondence to de Blasio supporters, which seeks campaign dough for his re-election bid, was sent out three days after the mayor was grilled by federal prosecutors as part of a wide-ranging investigation into his previous fund-raising efforts.

Hizzoner is seeking donations as low as $3, so he can qualify for public matching funds.

“I want to talk to you about New York City’s progressive campaign finance laws, and then I am going to ask you to do something important to support and take advantage of them,” de Blasio said in the e-mail.

“In New York City, every single resident who contributes between $1 and $175 to a campaign has their contribution matched SIX to ONE. What that means is that a $10 contribution turns into $70, $20 turns into $140, and so on.

“This is important because it allows people to run for office without being a millionaire or asking millionaires for money. It opens the doors of politics to people without connections to the city’s rich and powerful, and levels the playing field for working people who want to run for office . . . Make a $3 contribution to support my re-election campaign, and as a way of saying you support reducing the influence of big money in our campaigns and elections.”

De Blasio campaign spokesman Dan Levitan defended the timing of the solicitation, claiming Hizzoner “has received more low-dollar contributions from individual, everyday New Yorkers than any candidate for mayor — Democrat or Republican — in more than two decades.

“This campaign is powered by small contributions, and we are going to keep that momentum going,” he said.

The tactic is a far cry from de Blasio’s past fund-raising practices, which relied on deep-pocketed donors.

The feds have been probing the mayor over whether he and his advisers exchanged favors to donors for contributions to his 2013 campaign and his now-shuttered nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York.

Hizzoner raised $4.3 million — mostly from unions, real estate firms and other companies that do business with the city — for CONY, which promoted his political pet projects.

Donors to the mayor’s re-election campaign and other citywide campaigns are limited to giving $4,950 per election cycle — and only $400 if they do business with the city.

The Bobster 03-01-2017 10:12 AM

Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

De Blasio climbs in polls despite corruption probe
By Rich Calder
February 28, 2017 | 10:46pm

Despite federal and state probes into his campaign fund-raising, Mayor de Blasio has scored his best marks with voters in a year, a poll released Tuesday said. :confused:

Forty-seven percent favor de Blasio’s re-election this November, while 44 percent want him booted out of office, according to a Quinnipiac University survey with a margin of error of about 4 percentage points.

The results end a year-long trend of voters rejecting the mayor’s re-election bid, including a Jan. 18 poll in which his candidacy was opposed, 48 percent to 42 percent.

In the new poll, de Blasio also earned his best job-approval rating in 13 months: 50 percent to 42 percent.

He leads potential Republican challenger Paul Massey, 59 percent to 25 percent.

The Bobster 03-01-2017 12:33 PM

Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

DOE staffing costs spike in wake of de Blasio’s teachers union contract
By Selim Algar
February 28, 2017 | 10:19pm

The city’s Department of Education staffing costs are rising sharply in the wake of a 2014 teachers union contract inked by Mayor de Blasio, according to a watchdog report.

The New York City Independent Budget Office found that de Blasio’s preliminary $24.371 billion 2018 school budget rose by about $1.05 billion, due in large part to teacher salary hikes.

That deal included annual pay bumps through October 2018 along with retroactive boosts to be allocated between 2016 and 2021. Most of those costs will attach to DOE budgets over the final three years of the arrangement, according to the IBO.

Salaries and benefits for all DOE employees — not just teachers — are slated to rise by $823 million, or 5.7 percent :eek:, in de Blasio’s preliminary 2018 budget, the report said. That represents about 78 percent of the $1.05 billion budget hike.

“By the end of 2018, total DOE staffing would be nearly 13,000 greater than in 2013, the report states. “Yet, only about half the increase in budgeted personal costs since 2013 is the product of increased head count; the rest of the increase is due to the higher salaries.”

The IBO said de Blasio’s DOE personnel-cost hikes have far outpaced those seen during former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s last term.

Bloomberg and the United Federation of Teachers failed to reach a contract agreement during the final four years of his reign, a standoff that froze teacher salary structures.

UFT brass said the hikes were belated and well-earned.

“After years of a frozen schedule under the prior administration, Mayor de Blasio agreed to a contract for more competitive salaries for the people who teach and work with the city’s public school children,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

Higher charter-school costs are also responsible for increasing DOE budget numbers, according to the IBO.

In absolute terms, annual charter spending increases under the Bloomberg and de Blasio administrations have been comparable, the report states.

“In relative terms, however, the rate of growth in funding for non-DOE schools was more rapid under Mayor Bloomberg than Mayor de Blasio because the earlier increases were built on a much smaller base,” according to the IBO.

Including the preliminary 2018 budget, “the amount dedicated to DOE operations since the beginning of the de Blasio administration will have increased by $4.1 billion,” the report states.

The Bobster 03-01-2017 12:38 PM

Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

De Blasio evasive when asked about sitdown with feds
By Yaron Steinbuch
March 1, 2017 | 2:53pm

Mayor de Blasio repeatedly deflected questions Tuesday about his more than four-hour grilling last week by federal prosecutors reviewing his campaign financing.

“There is an investigation going on and I want to respect that. I have nothing more to say,” he said about the “voluntary” sit-down with the feds on Friday. “It was a fine conversation.”

Asked about his plans to form a legal defense fund to cover his mounting expenses, Hizzoner said, “It takes real resources to cover legal bills. Like I said many times, I’m not a millionaire or a billionaire. We’ll figure out a plan.”

De Blasio also danced around questions about the firing of a top city official who approved the 2015 sale of a Lower East Side nursing home to a condo developer – just hours before the mayor was questioned.

Ricardo Morales, deputy commissioner of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, OK’d the removal of a deed restriction on Rivington House, allowing it to be sold and converted into a luxury condo.

De Blasio said he did not want to get into specifics, calling the move a “personnel decision” that involved the deputy mayor and DCAS.

“I believe they thought they needed someone better to do that job,” he said.

“Not a single thing has changed my view about how we’ve handled this – appropriately, ethically and within the law,” he said about the yearlong probe. “I’m comfortable that things were handled the right way.”

The feds have been probing him over whether he and his advisers exchanged favors to donors for contributions to his 2013 campaign and his now-shuttered nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York.

De Blasio raised $4.3 million for CONY, which promoted his political pet projects, including from several individuals and firms with business interests before the city.

On Monday, he admitted that he has a long history of doing favors for community members who need help with city business — but claimed it’s kosher because he “never pressures” his department heads.

The mayor has neither confirmed nor denied media reports that he helped Brooklyn Rabbi Moishe Indig, who raised money for him, in getting the Buildings Department in 2014 to lift a partial vacate order at a Hasidic school.

De Blasio also has denied allegations by John Ciafone — husband of production company Broadway Stages owner Gina Argento — that his wife was pressured into delivering donations to his 2013 mayoral campaign and to CONY.

On Friday, at least four assistant US attorneys from Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara’s office grilled de Blasio for more than four hours at the Midtown office of his lawyer, Barry Berke.

City Hall Press Secretary Eric Phillips has said the mayor attended the long-awaited sit-down “voluntarily.”

“We remain confident that at all times the mayor and his staff acted appropriately and well within the law,” he said in a statement.

De Blasio also is under separate probe by Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. over fund-raising tied to a failed attempt to win Democratic control of the state Senate in 2014. He was questioned by the DA’s Office in late December.

The Bobster 03-01-2017 12:39 PM

Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

Voters fed up with de Blasio’s handling of investigations
By Rich Calder
March 1, 2017 | 2:45pm

City voters are fed up with how Mayor de Blasio is handling a string of federal and state probes rocking his administration – including his plan to seek contributions to pay for his legal bills, a poll released Wednesday.

Fifty-two percent aren’t happy with how de Blasio is dealing with public corruption, while 28 percent approve of his methods and the rest are undecided, according to a Quinnipiac poll with an error margin of about 3 percent.

The poll, while giving de Blasio good grades on his handling of crime, schools and most other categories, is also particularly rough on Hizzoner’s handling of the city’s homelessness crisis.

Voters disapprove of it, 55 percent to 36 percent, and whopping 96 percent of New Yorkers polled say homelessness is a serious problem in the Big Apple.

The survey also found that 57 percent of voters say de Blasio’s plan to set up a legal defense fund to pay his bills related to the pay-for-play probes is an ethical problem, while 37 percent are okay with it.

Voters also believe the mayor does favors for developers who are generous to his campaigns, 50 percent to 29 percent. However, half of those who say the mayor does such favors, believe the actions are unethical – but not criminal. Another 33 percent say it’s indeed criminal.

Compared to a “few years ago,” 54 percent of voters report witnessing more homeless persons living on the streets and other public spaces, the poll said. Another 14 percent claim the problem has improved and remaining 32 percent are undecided.

“Homelessness is a big problem, New Yorkers think,” said Maurice Carroll, assistant director of the poll. “There attitudes are a mixture of compassion and impatience.”

New Yorkers also approve of the job Police Commissioner James O’Neill is doing, 52 percent to 21 percent.

De Blasio’s sketchy numbers with voters on public corruption and homelessness were unveiled a day after the release of another Quinnipiac Poll that ended a year-long trend of voters rejecting the mayor’s re-election bid. The poll found 47 percent favor de Blasio’s re-election while 44 percent do not.

The Bobster 03-02-2017 10:30 AM

Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

De Blasio cronies are still making record amounts of cash
By Michael Gartland
March 2, 2017 | 1:06pm

James Capalino
Patrick McMullan

Big Apple-based lobbyists raked in record-setting total pay for the third straight year — with Mayor de Blasio’s pal and fundraiser James Capalino still at the top of the heap, data from the City Clerk revealed Thursday.

Capalino is the lobbyist embroiled in several City Hall pay-to-play controversies that has caught the eyes of prosecutors — including the lifting of the Rivington House deed restriction and the conversion of Long Island College into luxury housing.

His firm, James F. Capalino & Associates, raked in $13.5 million in 2016 — $500,000 more than the roughly $12.9 million in payments it received in 2015.

Since de Blasio took office in 2014, Capalino has nearly tripled its earnings.

The new figures from the clerk’s office come as de Blasio faces probes into whether his administration illegally traded political favors for campaign contributions.

Capalino lobbied City Hall on behalf of the Rivington House nursing home to have deed restrictions lifted from the property just 16 days after de Blasio took office.

The sale and re-sale of the Lower East Side property — and the city’s eventual lifting of deed restrictions there — has sparked a number of federal and state probes.

Capalino has so far raised $44,940 for the mayor’s 2017 re-election bid and gave $10,000 to the Campaign for One New York, a non-profit now under investigation by the feds that raised more than $4.3 million to back de Blasio’s pet projects.

Capalino clients include Two Trees, Toll Brothers, Asphalt Green, Brookfield Properties and Douglaston Development also contributed to CONY.

Capalino was the lobbyist who also pressed top de Blasio officials to back luxury condos at a former Brooklyn hospital site at the same time he was writing big checks to de Blasio’s political causes.

De Blasio last year said he would no longer meet with his “friend” Capalino on city business following claims the veteran lobbyist was getting favored treatment.

The Bobster 03-02-2017 03:55 PM

Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

De Blasio denies charters space in public schools, flouting state law: report
By Selim Algar
March 2, 2017 | 2:14pm

Mayor de Blasio has systematically denied charter schools space in public school buildings despite abundant availability, a sector advocate charged in a new report.

Despite an April 2014 state law mandating that charter schools have fair access to seats in public facilities, Families for Excellent Schools said that 79 percent of co-location requests have been rejected.

The group will convene parents at city hall at noon today to protest the situation.

A total of 105 charter applications have been submitted since the law’s enactment — but only 22 have been granted, FES stated in a report.

“The administration has delayed the process whenever possible, rejected applications in districts with ample public space, and forced educators to identify, secure, and pay for private space they often can’t afford,” FES said.

A Department of Education spokesman challenged their data, noting that additional charter requests have since been fulfilled.

“We continue to work with charter schools to ensure the equitable use of school buildings and provide high-quality schools options for all students,” said Michael Aciman.

FES asserted that in 90 percent of the cases where charter applications were rebuffed, “ample” public school space was available for co-location.

In lieu of a public school accommodation, the state law requires that the city fund leasing costs for alternate private spaces.

FES claimed that DOE spending on these rents has risen by 294 percent in the last three years and was slated to hit $40 million this year. The DOE said it was $28 million.

Co-locations would ease these ballooning taxpayers burdens and “would have saved millions in taxpayer dollars,” the report stated.

FES contended that the city’s rental payments for private spaces are frequently insufficient. “This is not a victimless case of bureaucratic red tape,” the report stated.

DOE officials have knocked down FES’s claims of plentiful empty seats in city buildings, arguing that official Blue Book figures offer only a “snapshot” of availability and can’t be relied on for long-term projections of building uses.

But FES rejected that defense as an evasion. The DOE “routinely hides behind the rhetoric of rejecting and questioning the validity of its own Blue Book data,” they said in the report.

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