Comptroller, Borough Presidents, Public Advocate, Manhattan DA & NYC Mayoral Races - Analysis
Early Voting Has Started, Update on Controllers Race, Queens & Manhattan Borough Presidents & the NYC Mayoral Contest
June 14, 2021 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.
Well, this election certainly snuck up on us. It's hard to believe that early voting began on Saturday, June 12, 2021 and continues through June 20th. Election day follows a couple of days later on Tuesday, June 22nd - only a week away.
Please be advised that these are not endorsements, per se, just an opinion based on an analysis of the best information I have at this time.
NYC Municipal Election Primaries Underway - Early Voting has Begun
This is an important election, where most of the key municipal offices are up for grabs, and many of the key incumbents have been term limited. There's the Mayor's race, of course, which I'll get to in a minute. And also the Comptroller, the Public Defender, all of the Borough Presidents, and all members of the City Council.
- CLICK here to read the rest of our report on the NYC Democratic Primary Election begins early voting & ranked choice voting June 2021.
NYC Comptroller Race - Corey Johnson has a Solid Lead, but Still Short of a Majority
Regarding the Comptroller's race, right now Corey Johnson, the current Speaker of the City Council, is running for Comptroller and leading in the polls by a fairly healthy margin - BUT - he still only has about 18% of the vote. His next nearest competitors are Michelle Cabruso-Cabrera and Brad Lander - both of whom are at 9%. Johnson seems like a solid choice, given his experience as City Council Speaker, and no questions regarding his integrity and efforts in support of the working / middle classes.
Public Advocate - Juumane Williams has Outraised his two Competitors Combined by 50% in Small Donations
I'm not familiar with our current Public Advocate, Juumane Williams' competitors, but they've not been very successful in obtaining financial support. I also couldn't find a poll for the race, which to me means it's not hotly contested. Williams was elected Public Advocate, beating out sixteen other candidates in a special election in 2019. At present I see no need for a change, as Williams' first full year in office was - like all of our lives - put in something akin to a techno 'sleep mode' as we waited out the pandemic.
Van Bramer, Sunnyside Yard and the Queens Borough Presidency
As for the Borough Presidents, Jimmy Van Bramer seems to be the best choice for the folks in Queens, because he stood up to the powerful interests and the Democratic Party leadership regarding the Amazon development deal in Long Island City. This issue was an important test, because that Long Island City real estate development package seemed to include a number of unnecessary tax giveaways to billionaires - yet again.
But thanks to Van Bramer and other courageous local government officials, this did not happen. And in spite of the blockade, Amazon still made significant investments to expand their footprint in NYC - as had Facebook and Google previously and concurrently - without the taxpayer giveaways. When are government officials going to learn that NYC offers big corporations a level of infrastructure they are hard pressed to obtain almost any place else?
So that said, the reason Van Bramer seems like the best choice is that it's very likely in the next four to eight years, that the Sunnyside Yard is going to be developed. Sunnyside Yard is adjacent to Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Astoria and its development will greatly affect the lives of the people who live there and likely far beyond. So the last kind of Queens Borough President the folks of Queens need representing them during these turbulent times, are those who are unwilling to stand up to the real estate developers and big business billionaires, because the pressure to sell us locals out, will likely be significant.
In standing up for the locals in the case of the Amazon development, Van Bramer has shown he's willing to take the risk and heat of representing his constituents - even when it means angering rich and powerful people. The other two key Democratic candidates, Elizabeth Crowley and Donovan Richards, are both Democratic party 'machine' insiders and have shown a proclivity to accommodate real estate developers in the past.
Manhattan Borough President & the Case of an Ambitious Opportunist
In Manhattan, the only insight I have to provide at this time, is about who I find somewhat objectionable, and that's where Lindsey Boylan comes in. I did a couple of reports that included her, in tandem with the Cuomo harassment allegations. What I found was that the timing of her announcement alleging that Cuomo had harassed her, seemed far too opportunistic to ignore, as did the way she appeared to manage her career while working for him. And what seemed her attempt to exploit the #MeToo movement for support and donations, reminded me of how Senators Cruz [Republican Texas] and Hawley [Republican Missouri] seemed to exploit the Big Lie about election fraud to opportunistically raise cash for their campaigns.
Manhattan District Attorney Race - Why did One Front Runner Receive Lots of Wall St. Cash?
According to a May 19, 2021 report by Intelligencer,
" ... Much of the criticism aimed at Farhadian Weinstein has come from her ties to the financial industry. As of January, the last filing deadline, Farhadian Weinstein had raised $2.2 million, far more than any other candidate. Much of that money was provided by donors on Wall Street, where Farhadian Weinstein’s husband runs the hedge fund Saba Capital Management. (Her critics like to point out that she and her husband bought their Fifth Avenue penthouse for $25.5 million in 2012.) Farhadian Weinstein’s connection to the finance world is especially concerning among those who saw a connection between Vance declining to prosecute Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Harvey Weinstein and the DA’s willingness to take substantial contributions from the defense attorneys who represented them... "
Farhadian is one of the top two contenders.
The other top contender is Alvin Bragg, who doesn't have such monied support, but did win the endorsement of the New York Times. In their endorsement in support of Alvin Bragg for District Attorney they cited his successful prosecution of the Trump Foundation's illicit activity. Whoever becomes the next Manhattan District Attorney will have to take over the current case being prepared against the Trump Organization regarding alleged tax scam(s). This race will NOT be decided by ranked choice voting, even though there are eight candidates vying for the spot.
Bronx, Brooklyn & Staten Island Borough Presidents
Unfortunately, most of the roughly two dozen folks running for the Bronx, Brooklyn and Staten Island Borough Presidents, I've not spent much time covering or monitoring. Unfortunately, I don't have the resource to do it now, in the time remaining. So I suggest using Google, Bing, Wikipedia, the NYT and the Daily News as fairly reliable sources to use, if you want to check up on someone that you're contemplating voting for. We rolled out the Bronx Buzz, the Brooklyn Blvd and the Staten Buzz, all within the past few years, so we're short on history as of this writing, but should be in a far better position to comment in the years going forward as we step up our coverage in those boroughs.
Beware the Manipulations of an Australian Born Billionaire's Corrupt NYC Media?
I recommend against relying on the NY Post, Wall St. Journal and Fox News for election information as they are all controlled by the same Australian born billionaire, Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch, who appears to use these media outlets to manipulate public perception, in order to get pols elected who will cater to his whims, in exchange for 'free' mass media advertorial [ads presented as 'news' content] support. The candidates he supports too often win, as does Murdoch, while we, the people, lose bigly.
Now, onto the NYC Mayoral Debate on Thursday, June 10, 2021.
2nd / Final Live NYC Mayoral Debate 2021 & Ranked Choice Voting
On Thursday, June 10, 2020, five of the most competitive NYC Mayoral candidates faced off again in the second and final live debate of this race. The candidates were Eric Adams, Kathryn Garcia, Maya Wiley, Scott Stringer and Andrew Yang. Donovan, Morales and McGuire apparently didn't make the cut. Take note of this folks, as in this first year of ranked choice voting, even if you support these candidates, your second through fifth place votes are going to matter. Why? Because as of this post about 22% of the electorate has not yet made up their minds and nobody - not even the front running candidates - are even close to winning the majority needed to become the next Mayor of NYC.
So as I sat down to watch the debate, I found myself not that interested in the first couple of questions. One was about how to handle Governor Cuomo, because de Blasio and Cuomo have had a testy relationship. But it's unknown as to whether Cuomo will be re-elected, given he's already held the job for twelve years. Why is the Mayor's post term limited but the Governor's is not? The candidates were also asked about the legalization of marijuana and the answers didn't differ dramatically. They all seem to be in favor of legalization, with tweaks on how to manage the roll out, the revenue and the collateral damage [accidents and drug abuse].
But the next set of questions were pretty solid, and directed directly at each of the individual candidates, in something I would call "in search of an Achilles heel".
Stringer has a Second Accuser Regarding Sexual Harassment
The first question went to Scott Stringer regarding new and previous allegations of sexual harassment by the NYC Comptroller. In early June a second accuser came forth with allegations that Stringer had groped and kissed her without her consent. The first accuser, Jean Kim, made public similar allegations earlier this year. The allegations date back to the early 1990's when Stringer was one of the owners of a bar called Uptown Local which was between 97th and 98th streets on the Upper West Side. Stringer denied the allegations and said he was sorry if he made anyone uncomfortable.
The next question went to Andrew Yang, querying whether he would spend much time at his weekend home in New Paltz. It was noted that Yang and his family 'escaped' the city during the CoVid pandemic - which was not uncommon with many other white collar workers and their families. Yang said he expected he would be too busy for weekends in New Paltz if elected Mayor.
Wiley & Stringer on Corruption
Maya Wiley was asked what her willingness to enable the de Blasio Administration to block from public view, the communications between the Administration and the political consultants working in tandem with the Campaign for One New York, would mean if she were elected Mayor. Wiley had declared the consultants or Campaign for One New York 'agents of the city' which enabled the communication records to be shielded from public view - but only for a while, as that categorization didn't hold up, when challenged in court. The gist of this was about conflict of interest, much of it surrounding the effort to win universal Pre-K, as some of the donors to the Campaign for One New York had business pending before the city.
I'm not sure what Wiley's response was, as Scott Stringer jumped on this, and cried "pay to play". His outburst was met in kind, where he was accused by Wiley of using his office to serve his own political purposes. The example cited was a Comptroller audit of Garcia's department, which while it began a year ago, was only released within the past month.
This resonated with me, as in my report on Stringer within the past month, I noted how Stringer seemed to use the Comptroller's Office in 2014 to pursue an aggressive investigation of the Queens Library President and Board, which appeared to serve the purposes of a billionaire real estate developer and press lord [at the time]. The Stringer investigation turned up nothing, after a year of investigation, a lot of lawyering and what seemed an endless stream of headlines about the new NYC Comptroller, Scotty Stringer, chasing down 'corruption'. But to me it seemed just the opposite. It seemed that a corrupt Scotty Stringer was making headlines for himself, while chasing down a very competent and innocent Queens Library President and Board, in order to please a billionaire real estate developer and press lord, which in the long haul should have proven good for Stringer's career.
Kathryn Garcia the Garbage Collector?
The next question went to Kathryn Garcia regarding her handling of the Department of Sanitation and a report about the level of cleanliness in the city where 189 of 221 blocks were declared dirty. Garcia was responded by saying that the city was clean under her watch. But that things like a $100 million budget cut and changes to the alternate side parking rules made keeping the city clean challenging without the proper resource and parking accommodation.
Adams the Crime Fighter?
Adams was asked about whether his claims of being the right guy to be able to manage crime in NYC rang true, given that one of the worst crime areas in the city, is in his borough in northern Brooklyn. He said that it was the Mayor who has control of the NYPD and that the plethora of guns and other factors like poverty contribute to the problem.
I'm not sure if I have this right, but I believe Andrew Yang called Adams on this saying that while shootings are up 75% in the city, they are up 100% in Brooklyn. [Editor's Note: Comparing 2021 to 2020 can be misleading as during the pandemic a lot of things changed. The year 2019 is a better baseline.].
Changing Times & Revisionist Histories - Racism
The candidates were asked if they would change some of the names of streets and locations because a number of those for whom these are named were slaveowners. They all answered in the affirmative, with varying spins on the theme in their answers. Wiley said we need to do more than just change names. Garcia said we need to update records and do a better job of educating people by providing more complete histories of who were the people in our past.
Bike Lanes and Bike Licenses
The candidates were asked about bike lanes and bike licenses. Yang said he believed that motorized bikes beyond a certain speed should be regulated and the biking infrastructure better / more intelligently developed. Wiley said that we need more and better alternatives to existing transit options. Garcia agreed and said no to regular bike licenses because it would serve as a deterrent to an activity that is largely beneficial in nature. Stringer said free bikes for everyone in high school. Adams said no licenses as that would place an unnecessary burden on the NYPD.
Congestion Pricing - Not a Fan Myself but All Candidates Support it
Asked about congestion pricing, they all said yes, except Andrew Yang who pointed out that traffic congestion in Manhattan isn't a problem right now and the funds could be used elsewhere. We did a report on Congestion Pricing and are not fond of it based on our assessment of the facts. It seems like an expensive 'solution' formulated and pushed by lobbyists to profit from a problem it won't really fix.
Adams and Yang Duel - Who Owns Two Homes? Who's a Real New Yorker?
A couple of footnotes to this race. Adams accused Yang of being a racist because Yang questioned whether Adams was a real New York citizen. Adams owns a home in Brooklyn, but also shares an apartment with his partner in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Adams said it was racist because he [Adams] believed that Yang was implying that an African American can't own two homes. Yang's campaign said Yang questioning Adams residency was in response to Adams' continuous assaults on Yang as not being a 'real New Yorker' because Yang owns a second home in New Paltz. This looks like a guy cat fight [meow].
NYPBA - the Police Union with a Spotty Record - Endorses Adams
Adams also received the endorsement of the NYPBA police union, which Adams has been boasting about. It's worth mentioning that the NYPBA has fought to keep most or even all of the NYPD policemen who have shot and killed unarmed African Americans on the force with benefits. The NYPBA finally lost one of these battles regarding Daniel Pantaleo, who put Eric Garner of Staten Island, in a fatal chokehold believed to have caused Garner's death.
Early Voting Runs Until Sunday June 20th and the Election is Tuesday 6/22/21
Early voting begins Saturday, June 12th and continues through Sunday June 20th. Election day is Tuesday, June 22nd. Have a good week.
Enjoy your week.