Cats Out of The Bag
One night this week, you may be at home, minding your own business, and find yourself on the receiving end of a phone call from John Catsimatidis. Your next brush with him might happen when you’re driving or sitting in front of the television. These encounters will, no doubt, be memorable, thanks to the candidate’s loud squawk of a New York accent and his decidedly distinctive appearance. With an ample gut and a face padded by a prominent second chin, Mr. Catsimatidis looks less suited for prime time than for a caricature by the pioneering political cartoonist Thomas Nast as a mass of jowls and bursting blazer buttons.
Over the next few months, the businessman plans to spend several million of his own dollars to take his mayoral campaign to the phone lines and airwaves in an effort to show New Yorkers he’s a more approachable, homespun brand of billionaire than Michael Bloomberg.
“I grew up on 135th Street. I grew up on the poor side of New York. I grew up in Harlem. I was a store owner. I’m still a store owner,” Mr. Catsimatidis told The Observer on the phone from a weekend vacation in the Bahamas. “I’m not a Bloomberg billionaire. I am a real New Yorker … I didn’t go to Harvard, I didn’t go to Yale … I rooted for the Yankees, I didn’t root for the Boston Red Sox.”
This morning, Mayor Michael Bloomberg journeyed into the belly of the meme-making beast when he visited Buzzfeed’s headquarters on 21st Street to announce a new “Made in NY” initiative involving a website and ad campaign designed to attract more tech startups to New York City. To mark the occasion, his staffers created a Buzzfeed-style listicle entitled, “5 Animals Who are Not Disappointed in Mayor Bloomberg,” on official city tumblr and his personal site.
“Since BuzzFeed is famous for lists, such as the ’33 Animals that are Extremely Disappointed in You,’ we came up with our own list,” the introduction to the post says. “Here are the 5 animals who are not disappointed in Mayor Bloomberg.”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has emerged as one of the nation’s loudest gun control advocates in recent months. Unsurprisingly, in his response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address last night, the mayor focused on the Commander in Chief’s push for stronger gun control laws including background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines.
“Tonight, President Obama made a clarion call to fix the nation’s broken gun laws,” Mayor Bloomberg said in a statement. “In a chamber filled with both survivors of gun violence and the men and women of the United States Congress who have the power to improve our gun laws, President Obama implored both parties to come together on an issue that has the support of the vast majority of Americans: keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people.”
The Land of Ice & Snow
Mayor Michael Bloomberg says today’s snowstorm won’t be as bad as the epic “Snowpocalypse” of 2010.
“We don’t think that people are going to be that inconvenienced,” the mayor said in a radio interview with John Gambling this morning.
Though he didn’t give any dire warnings about the storm, Mayor Bloomberg did have some advice about helping your neighbors survive the wintry weather.
How'd He Do?
At Temple Emanu-El in the Upper East Side this morning, hundreds of New Yorkers–including a small army of elected officials–braved ice-cold wind gusts and swarms of reporters to pay their respects to former Mayor Ed Koch, who passed away last Friday. The long list of top-tier politicos in attendance included current and former governors, mayors and senators. And every one of them had a fond memory of Koch to share.
“My last conversation with him was when I went to his office to ask him to support me for comptroller.” Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer recalled, for example. “I prepared. I expected to have a long conversation. He looked up at me and said, ‘I endorse you. Go win. Goodbye.’”
Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered one of the eulogies at former Mayor Ed Koch’s funeral in Manhattan this morning and he praised his predecessor for an attitude “full of humor and chutzpah” that ”embodied the spirit of New York City” and made him “our City’s quintessential Mayor.” In his speech, Mayor Bloomberg also credited Koch with laying the foundation that allowed subsequent mayor’s to make the five boroughs “great again.” In a nod to the setting of the funeral, the Jewish Temple Emanu-El, Mr. Bloomberg compared Koch’s achievements to the story of Moses.
“I’ve been doing my biblical research, and I think it’s only fitting that this week’s Torah portion is about Moses leading the Jews out of bondage in Egypt. Now, Ed, in his own way, was our Moses. Just with a little less hair,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “He led us out of darkness and he gave us hope. And while he may not have parted the Red Sea, he did break a subway strike by standing on a bridge and shouting words of encouragement.”
In an interview with DNAInfo, Republican mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis claimed former Mayor Rudy Giuliani told him he has a far better chance of winning the mayor’s race than Joe Lhota, who was a deputy mayor in Mr. Giuliani’s administration and is widely assumed to have the ex-mayor’s support. However, this morning Mr. Giuliani told Politicker he didn’t tell Mr. Catsimatidis he has a better shot at a victory than Mr. Lhota.
“I never told John Catsimatidis that Joe Lhota would have a harder time winning,” Mr. Giuliani said. “What I told him is a fact: it’s difficult for any Republican to get elected in New York City. That’s a political fact.”
MSNBC host and civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton released a statement this morning reacting to former Mayor Ed Koch’s death. In his statement, Mr. Sharpton noted he eventually came to “understand Koch,” though he was initially a staunch critic of the mayor and received his “first arrest” protesting the Koch administration.
“I am saddened to hear of the passing of former Mayor Ed Koch,” Mr. Sharpton began. “Throughout his twelve years of being mayor, I was one of his most vociferous critics. In fact, my first arrest was leading a sit-in on him about summer jobs for youth in 1978. We later united and worked together around the country in a national campaign for nonviolent drug offenders to give them a second chance in life, and we ended up getting to know and understand each other.”
Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch died earlier this morning at the age of 88 after being hospitalized for congestive heart disease. Mr. Koch served as the 105th Mayor of New York City for three terms from 1978 until 1989. With a larger-than-life personality, Mr. Koch relished a position that allowed him to become something of a national ambassador for New York City.
Though critics accused Mr. Koch of worsening racial tensions in the city and not doing enough to fight the AIDS crisis that was particularly devastating to the gay community, Mr. Koch was fiercely proud of his legacy, specifically, what he saw as his efforts to save New York from the financial crisis of the late 1970′s, his vast expansion of public housing and programs and efforts he saw as bringing a more meritocratic approach to local government. Politicker conducted one of the final interviews with Mr. Koch on January 17, just two weeks before his death, and he characterized his administration as paving the way for his successors.
“I’m proud of what I did,” he said. “I also believe that both Giuliani and, particularly, Mike Bloomberg have made tremendous contributions to this city. … And I look upon what I did as laying the groundwork and the foundation on which they could build, and without what I did, they couldn’t have done what they did. So, I’m proud of my contributions.”
Bombastic billionaire business man John Catsimatidis officially announced his candidacy for mayor as a Republican on the steps of City Hall today in a freewheeling press conference that touched on his philosophies on life, business and his positions on many of the major issues of the day. Though Mr. Catsimatidis deviated substantially from the prepared remarks distributed by his staff prior to the event, he did focus on his background as a native New Yorker and his experience as a businessman.
“It’s not that I’m only a business person, I came from 135th Street. I never forgot where I come from. I’m not a Mike Bloomberg billionaire, I’m not wearing a $5,000 suit. I think my wife paid $100 for this,” said Mr. Castimatidis, grabbing the lapel of the wrinkled black suit that covered his ample frame.