Elephants in the Room
While the City Council overwhelmingly voted to pass new, expanded paid sick leave legislation this afternoon, the council’s tiny Republican bloc loudly opposed the measure.
The three council Republicans–Minority Leader Vincent Ignizio, Steven Matteo and Eric Ulrich–joined two Democrats in voting against the bill, which will expand the number of businesses that need to provide paid sick days to their employees. Republicans argued that the bill, supported by Mayor Bill de Blasio, will slow hiring and even lead to an “underground” economy.
Top Democrats and organized labor celebrated Mayor Bill de Blasio’s State of the City address this afternoon, hailing the new mayor’s repeated calls for more affordable housing, expanded science education and a tax hike to fund universal prekindergarten.
Little of Mr. de Blasio’s speech actually broke new ground–the new mayor stuck mainly to the campaign themes that he repeated in his victory and inaugural addresses–but Democrats were more than happy to offer praise.
Councilman Eric Ulrich, who made a 180-degree turn yesterday by backing Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito for City Council speaker after previously warning her candidacy would be a “disaster,” tried to explain his reversal today to some befuddled members of the press.
Keeping the Faith
A holy war has erupted in a Queens City Council race.
Democrat Lew Simon slammed Councilman Eric Ulrich today for distributing campaign fliers that feature a picture of Mr. Ulrich with Pope John Paul II–as he’s done in at least one previous campaign.
As they devoured buffalo chicken pizza and stuffed shells at a Queens fund-raiser last night, Republicans strained to remain optimistic about Joe Lhota’s dimming prospects in the mayor’s race.
king of queens
Though the Queens Republican Party declared incumbent chairman Phil Ragusa the victor in a tense leadership vote last week, insurgent candidate Bob Turner is not backing down yet.
The former congressman–like past challengers of Mr. Ragusa–is claiming he won the election and is hoping to invalidate his opponent’s victory in court.
Mo' Money Mo' Problems
Former Congressman Bob Turner is running to become chair of the Queens Republican Party today, setting up a bitter clash with chairman Phil Ragusa, sources say.
“That’s politics in New York,” the New York Post‘s cover blared in stark black-and-white ink this morning. “It’s all about the f–king money.”
The quote, allegedly made from Councilman Dan Halloran to a cooperating witness, was revealed yesterday as U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara unsealed charges not only against Mr. Halloran, but State Sen. Malcolm Smith and a small slew of other political figures in what Mr. Bharara called “a corridor of corruption stretching from Queens and the Bronx to Rockland County and all the way up to Albany itself.”
Specifically, Mr. Halloran is accused of “essentially quarterbacking” a scheme to secure Republican establishment support for Mr. Smith’s mayoral bid. Mr. Smith, a Democrat, would need the blessing of three of the five county Republican organizations to run on the GOP line, and he allegedly arranged for cash bribes in his attempt to do so. But, looking more broadly, the strange scandal also shines light on these county organizations and their few remaining powers in city politics.
In the wake of bribery charges being brought against the Queens Republican Party’s executive vice president, Republican Councilman Eric Ulrich is calling for former Congressman Bob Turner to the lead the party.
“I want to see Bob Turner as the next chairman and I want [Queens GOP Chair] Phil Ragusa to resign immediately,” Mr. Ulrich told Politicker. “I believe Ragusa has an obligation to step aside. The only person who can bring peace and bring people together is Bob Turner because of his integrity, character and ability to work with people on different sides. He’s very conciliatory.”
City Council Republicans and mayoral candidate Joe Lhota were mostly in sync with Mayor Michael Bloomberg today, denouncing a bill that would create an inspector general’s office for the NYPD.
“There’s no reason to have an inspector general office for the NYPD,” Mr. Lhota said at City Hall this morning. “It already has oversight by the five district attorneys, by the two U.S. attorneys, by various other organizations. Its just another level of bureaucracy that is being put upon the City of New York and it’s absolutely unnecessary.”