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Old 02-28-2017, 08:23 AM
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Default Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

http://nypost.com/2017/02/28/de-blas...s-for-friends/

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.

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.

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.”
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Old 02-28-2017, 08:25 AM
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Default Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

http://nypost.com/2017/02/28/de-blas...less-shelters/

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.
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Old 02-28-2017, 05:16 PM
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Default Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

http://nypost.com/2017/02/28/de-blas...er-population/

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.

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.
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Old 02-28-2017, 05:42 PM
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Default Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

http://nypost.com/2017/02/27/de-blas...y-new-yorkers/

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.

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.
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Old 03-01-2017, 10:12 AM
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Default Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

http://nypost.com/2017/02/28/de-blas...ruption-probe/

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.

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.
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Old 03-01-2017, 12:33 PM
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Default Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

http://nypost.com/2017/02/28/doe-sta...nion-contract/

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 , 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.
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Old 03-01-2017, 12:38 PM
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Default Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

http://nypost.com/2017/03/01/de-blas...own-with-feds/

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.
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Old 03-02-2017, 03:55 PM
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Default Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

http://nypost.com/2017/03/02/de-blas...te-law-report/

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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Old 03-03-2017, 08:59 AM
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Default Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

http://nypost.com/2017/03/02/de-blas...ising-circuit/

De Blasio heads out of town on campaign fundraising circuit
By Rich Calder
March 2, 2017 | 9:31pm

Mayor de Blasio will rack up frequent-flier miles this weekend by holding three out-of-town fund-raisers — including an A-list Beverly Hills affair being thrown by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and legendary TV producer Norman Lear.

De Blasio has already cited small donations from ordinary New Yorkers, which qualify for public matching funds, as a key part of his campaign for re-election this fall.

Now he’s hitting the road to line up big-buck donors a week after meeting with federal prosecutors investigating his past campaign-finance practices.

De Blasio heads to Chicago Friday to address the nonprofit City Club of Chicago. He then travels to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to deliver the keynote address at the Broward Democratic Party’s annual fund-raising dinner.

While in both cities, de Blasio will also hold his own campaign fund-raisers.

On Sunday, he will fly to Beverly Hills for a two-hour cocktail fundraiser hosted by Simmons, Lear, former DreamWorks Animation boss Jeffrey Katzenberg and ex-Los Angeles City Comptroller Wendy Gruel.

It will be held at celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck’s Spago bistro, and recommended campaign donations range from $2,500 to $4,950.

De Blasio campaign spokesman Dan Levitan said the fund-raisers were planned “months in advance.”
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Old 03-03-2017, 03:18 PM
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Default Re: New York City - Miscegenous Mayor 'Comrade' Bill De Blasio in the news

http://nypost.com/2017/03/03/de-blas...oubled-school/

De Blasio skirts questions about re-opening of troubled school
By Yoav Gonen
March 3, 2017 | 3:07pm

Mayor de Blasio on Friday for the second time would not refute allegations that he intervened on behalf of a fundraiser who sought to have the Dept. of Buildings lift a vacate order on a Hasidic school.

He was asked on WNYC radio about a report last week by the Kings County Politics blog that said Hizzoner called the cellphone of Satmar community leader Moishe Indig in late December 2014 to weigh in while Indig was meeting with the Brooklyn head of the buildings department.

But the mayor wouldn’t address the alleged phone call or related allegations directly, saying only that there was “a lot wrong with the reporting” in the story.

“I’m not going into detail because it’s a matter under investigation,” he told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer twice. “I want to respect the investigatory process.”

Indig, who hosted a fundraiser for de Blasio’s run for mayor in October 2013, did not return messages left seeking comment.

The Post reported Sunday that the matter is one of many connected to City Hall that’s under investigation by the Manhattan US Attorney’s office.

De Blasio was questioned by federal prosecutors for more than four hours last Friday about his fundraising practices, and is currently in the middle of a three-city fundraising trip to Chicago, Ft. Lauderdale and Beverly Hills.

City records show buildings inspectors found illegal classrooms in the basement of the Sanford Street school on Dec. 18, 2014 — prompting them to issue a partial vacate order.

Six days later, on Christmas Eve, the order was rescinded by Brooklyn DOB commissioner Ira Gluckman.

When the mayor was asked about the incident earlier this week, he told NY1 that he’s comfortable putting issues raised by community leaders on the table with agency heads but that he doesn’t pressure them to take action.

He reiterated on Friday that he saw no problem with that approach.

“I’m convinced that the agencies know that they should make the decision that they find appropriate — that’s everything I’ve experienced,” he told WNYC radio.

“I get issues brought to me by community leaders, elected officials, business leaders, labor leaders all day long. I believe that the folks who work for me understand their job is to make decisions on behalf of the all people, figure out what’s in the public’s interest,” he added. “I’m very convinced that’s what’s been done consistently.”

One of the other issues under investigation has been the lifting of a deed restriction at the former Rivington House nursing home in Manhattan by the city’s Dept. of Citywide Administrative Services in late 2015.

That move cost the community a protected healthcare site and netted a middleman developer as much as $72 million in profit.

The city terminated a DCAS deputy commissioner who signed off on the deal only last week, but the mayor wouldn’t explain why and claimed it wasn’t his decision.

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