On Wednesday, First Lady Michelle Obama will attend a fundraising reception at the swank Pierre Hotel on 61st Street. According to a campaign official, tickets for the event will start at $250 per person with proceeds benefitting the Obama Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee of Obama for America, the Democratic National Committee and several state Democratic parties.
President Barack Obama has gone on the attack against Mitt Romney for his career at the private equity firm Bain Capital and cast himself as an aggressive crusader for reform in the financial industry, but he took decidedly more friendly tone toward big business last night at a fundraiser hosted by Hamilton “Tony” James, President and COO of the private equity giant Blackstone Group. In his speech at Mr. James’ home in Manhattan, the president argued his focus on social programs is actually better for big business than the Republicans’ push for more tax cuts.
“I think all of us benefit from the freedom of free enterprise. But if you look at our history, what we also realize is that what makes our markets work and what allows us then to go out and pursue our individual dreams is that there are some things we’ve done in concert,” President Obama said. “There are some things that we’ve done as a common enterprise — making sure that our schools are teaching our kids the skills that they need to compete in a new economy; making certain that we’re investing in science and research so that the next medical breakthrough or the next great business idea takes root right here in the United States; making sure we’re investing in roads and bridges and airports and broadband lines and wireless networks that allow–that provide a platform for businesses and individuals to succeed; and making sure that we’ve got basic rules of the road in place so that the markets function in a transparent, clear way so that small investors have confidence if they invest on Wall Street they’re not going to get bilked by somebody who has more information than them.”
Congressman Charlie Rangel didn’t want to discuss who will succeed him in the House of Representatives.
“Is this an obituary?” he asked during a sometimes combative phone interview on Monday afternoon, which the longtime lawmaker described as a “rough one.”
“I’m 81-years-old, you want me to discuss what happens in three years? At the end of this year plus two. Would that make sense at all?” he asked.
Rather than deciding whom to anoint as heir, the outspokenly liberal octogenarian is facing what could be the closest campaign of his more than forty year career, while simultaneously coping with fading health and the waning power of the political empire he built in Harlem.
A man named Angel Molina is challenging incumbent Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito for her seat in the 8th district, which includes East Harlem, Central Park and portions of the Upper West Side and the Bronx. Mr. Molina, who recently filed to form a campaign committee to run for the seat, also has a website where he identifies fighting education spending cuts and raising the minimum wage as his the main issues on his platform.
“My commitment to social justice and growing up in a poor neighborhood gives me a distinct cultural perspective that I often use as my ethical compass to provide benefit to my community,” Mr. Molina said in a statement announcing his candidacy on his site.
Congressman Charlie Rangel is back in the hospital for the second time this month. Mr. Rangel’s spokeswoman, Hannah Kim, told The Politicker the congressman is still coping with a back injury that has kept him out of the House of Representatives since February 9, his longest absence in at least ten years.
“The Congressman is receiving additional treatments for his back. He is optimistic that the situation will be resolved soon,” Ms. Kim said.
“I want you to understand something. We lost Patton, we lost Patton on the beaches of Normandy and it is incumbent upon you to take up that mantle and to be fearless!” said the author and activist Pamela Geller.
Standing on on the bar of the Hell’s Kitchen lushing crib Sanctuary Monday evening, Ms. Geller was eulogizing right-wing firebrand Andrew Breitbart, who died suddenly last week at the age of 43.
Members of Manhattan’s small conservative media community gathered to mourn the late Mr. Breitbart, a bombthrower who relished fighting back against what he perceived as a liberal-dominated political press corps. The orotund provocateur made his name with outrageous, often humorous rhetoric and hard-hitting exposés, including publishing a series of undercover videos that led to the closure of ACORN and a cache of lewd photos and internet messages that brought down Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner.
Democratic Senator Daniel Squadron has criticized the legislative lines proposed by the Republican majority as the result of a partisan and “poisonous” redistricting process,” but one man believes Mr. Squadron is responsible for gerrymandering him out of his district. Pete Gleason, an attorney and two time City Council candidate who’s mulling another run for the Council, told The Politicker he believes his home was slated for removal from its current Senate district by Mr. Squadron.
“You know, it’s so transparent, it’s comical in one sense, but it’s also so transparent and it’s very dangerous,” Mr. Gleason said. “You cant have opposing parties in Albany complaining the other party is a scoundrel and you have no say in the process. When the line that was drawn in front of my door to exclude me from the district I’ve been in since 1998, you can’t say you had nothing to do with it, that’s ridiculous.”
Mr. Squadron’s spokeswoman, Amy Spitalnick, was flabbergasted when we called to ask about Mr. Gleason’s accusation.
“Has April Fools’ Day come early?” she asked.
She subsequently provided us with a statement saying Mr. Squadron had nothing to do with the proposed Senate district lines.
a campaign brewing
Veteran Upper West Side Councilwoman Gale Brewer is jumping into the race for Manhattan Borough President.
“I’m going to definitely do it I. haven’t gotten myself organized, because I’m working on so many different issues, but I will,” Ms. Brewer told The Politicker last night at a public forum hosted by Police Reform Organizing Project at the LGBT Community Center.
Ms. Brewer is entering a crowded field. With current Borough President Scott Stringer gearing up to run for mayor next year, Councilman Robert Jackson, Community Board 1 Chair Julie Menin and Councilwoman Jessica Lappin have all already begun campaigning for the position.
Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh faced off with protesters yesterday outside his hotel, the Ritz Carlton on Central Park South. Mr. Saleh came to the United States last month to seek medical treatment after signing a deal in November allowing him immunity from prosecution if he transferred power to his vice president in the wake of months of bloody protests against his regime.
Protesters gathered outside the Ritz yesterday afternoon and greeted Mr. Saleh with photos of some of the hundreds of people killed during the demonstrations against his administration that began during last year’s “Arab Spring.” Police fended off one man who attempted to “charge” Mr. Saleh. Another protester threw a shoe at the former head of state as he departed the hotel. The shoe-thrower was arrested for disorderly conduct.
Bronx State Senator Ruben Diaz is offended by the plan to keep Congressman Charlie Rangel in Washington by dramatically changing the contours of his district to include parts of The Bronx and Westchester.
“What a joke! What a farce! What a lack of respect to Sheldon Silver, to the rest of the Assembly members and to the people of the Bronx!” Mr. Diaz said in a statement sent out today. “We do not need Charles Rangel to come to the Bronx.”
The Politicker first reported the proposal to change Rangel’s district after Veteran Assemblyman and Harlem powerbroker Herman “Denny” Farrell revealed it at a town hall meeting last Friday. Mr. Farrell said the plan would give Mr. Rangel “a district that can be won” because his longtime stronghold in Harlem is “no longer black.”