I Fought the Law and
It’s the day of his first budget announcement, but much of the spotlight today will instead be focused on Bill de Blasio’s controversial decision to reach out to the NYPD following a friend’s arrest.
The city’s new mayor suddenly finds himself under fire from multiple corners following yesterday’s Wall Street Journal report revealing he personally made a call to inquire about Bishop Orlando Findlayter after the pastor was arrested Monday for outstanding warrants. A local police official subsequently–and suspiciously, some say–released Mr. Findlayter.
Police arrested New York Congressman Charles Rangel and 29 others, including City Councilmen Ritchie Torres and Antonio Reynoso, at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day-themed labor protest at LaGuardia Airport this afternoon.
The representatives had joined airport workers from the building workers’ union SEIU 32BJ as they gathered outside the airport to demand greater protections, including increased wages, health benefits, paid sick days, and the right to a paid holiday on Martin Luther King Day. In an act of intentional civil disobedience, the protesters staged a sit-in across the 94th Street bridge to LaGuardia, blocking traffic to and from the airport.
Law & Order
Mayor Bill de Blasio is pleased that his new law department has agreed to pay out $18 million to settle various lawsuits stemming from the 2004 Republican National Convention, where many alleged they were illegally arrested by the NYPD.
“I’ll simply say I’m glad the case is settled,” Mr. de Blasio told reporters this afternoon, speaking at a press conference outlining his plan to reduce traffic fatalities. “I have spoken before about my concerns about how that situation was handled at the time and I’m glad we’re moving forward.”
I Fought the Law and
“I didn’t get up in the morning ready to go to jail,” Charlie Rangel told Politicker today.
“I went to speak to the throngs of people and to give them encouragement,” he said. “Some people recognized me and asked me if I would get arrested with them: ‘Why won’t you, are you with us?’ I thought there’d be enough younger people getting arrested rather than me but I couldn’t walk away.”
New York Congressmen Charlie Rangel and Joe Crowley were among eight federal lawmakers reportedly arrested at an immigration reform rally in Washington D.C. earlier this evening.
Disgraced former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s surprise comeback campaign for comptroller has generated a huge amount of attention from the media–as well as several characters with controversial histories, including former City Council candidates accused of sexual harassment and race-baiting.
Of course, candidates can’t be held responsible for all of their supporters’ actions. But because Mr. Spitzer’s candidacy comes with its own scandal baggage, it is interesting to see who some of his most passionate supporters are.
The string of corruption arrests in New York State is far from over, according to the man who has issued many of the indictments.
In a rare televised interview with Capital Tonight, Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said even more public corruption cases can be expected to emerge due to the “pervasive” nature of the problem in the state.
Law & Order
As the fallout from the recent slew of arrests of state legislators continues, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that he doesn’t want what he dubbed “Scandalmania” hijacking his agenda.
“What I’m trying mightily to do is not allow the Scandalmania–’cuz you know how the press is with scandals and that becomes all-consuming–I don’t want that to eclipse the session and I don’t want it to derail the session because we have a lot of good work to do out there for New Yorkers who just want their government to function,” said the governor during a radio appearance on “The Capitol Pressroom with Susan Arbetter.”
After a series of New York officials were arrested and charged with corruption last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo says he has the solution–or at least the first step. Accordingly, at press conference earlier this afternoon, Mr. Cuomo unveiled a legislative package aimed at curbing the problem.
“Over the past few days, there have been several charges brought against public officials; they span city and state government,” he began. “And they paint a truly ugly picture of our political landscape. I’d like to say that this is an unprecedented situation, that public corruption is a new problem. But it isn’t and, in many ways, that’s what makes it worse.”
In his final State of the City address this afternoon, Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a number of new policies he’ll implement in the last of his twelve years in office. In addition to banning Styrofoam in restaurants and an expansion of electric car parking space, among other initiatives, Mr. Bloomberg notably announced the city will simply ticket and release New Yorkers caught with misdemeanor amounts of marijuana, rather than holding them in custody.
“There’s more we can do to keep New Yorkers, particularly young men, from ending up with a criminal record,” Mr. Bloomberg declared. “Commissioner Kelly and I support Governor Cuomo’s proposal to make possession of small amounts of marijuana a violation, rather than a misdemeanor. And we’ll work to help him pass it this year. But I’ll tell you, we won’t wait for that to happen.”