Archive | April, 2013

John Catsimatidis Visits our April Meeting.

28 Apr

photoIs the City ready for another billionaire Mayor?

John Catsimatidis visited BRC amid a level of anticipation from attendees. Members wanted to hear his vision for New York – and were aware that the Kings County GOP weeks before had chosen him as its choice for NYC Mayor. (Brooklyn’s County GOP had previously backed Adolpho Carrion.)

Mr. Catsimatidis was the last of five prospective candidates for the Republican line to visit Sam’s restaurant in the 2013 race. Respectful of their sacrifice and commitment to public service, BRC has been able to openly learn the backgrounds, achievements, pose local issues to them in extended Q & A periods, and see up close how questions were answered. While Mr. Catsimatidis could not take many questions – his next stop was paying respects at wake services – he immediately blended in with the group by sitting among them, trying the pizza and telling anecdotes about his family.

Mr. Catsimatidis prides himself as a “mayor for all the people” and a man that has been “all over the City” due to the locations of his stores and real estate concerns.

Known for his business success including Gristedes supermarkets, aerospace ventures and for philanthropy with PAL (Police Athletic League), with political and Hellenic/Greek organizations – Mr. Catsimatidis delivers an interesting narrative near immediately. He’s a home grown success story. He tells of a modest upbringing in upper Manhattan/Harlem – and ultimately ties into the American dream.

He tells a life-story of hard-work and how management of a food market led to ownership (at about 21 years old) – and how he shed aside formal education in New York University “with 6 credits left” to focus on the lucrative business he was building uptown. Decades later, Mr. Catsimatidis is a billionaire who believed he was ready to run for Mayor in 2009 “but stepped aside being Bloomberg was doing a good job”.

On a macro-business level, Mr. Catsimatidis relays how “money” and investments have come into NYC – on the faith of what Mayor Bloomberg has done for the international business community, planned for NY, and the general stability of law and order. He’d like to do more of that.

He says a main focus is education. He feels he’s ready to “give back, not take” for all he’s amassed. He feels that the lower income and middle class families, and students in particular, need to understand how to earn a better living. “They should have an option to learn a trade and make 70, 80 thousand dollars.” Creating jobs is a strongpoint of his, as he says he’s created “10s of thousands of jobs and no other candidate can say that.” He tells of fundraising for Brooklyn Tech, where he graduated from despite being raised in Manhattan.

Later, he added that he’s “a man of vision” due to his idea of a 3rd World’s Fair to summon 100 of greatest high-tech companies to New York and demonstrate their visions for the future of the City. He said this “would create another 10, 20 thousand good jobs in construction and operations” and (borrowing an idea of Mayor Bloomberg’s team for the Olympic bid) spread pavilions throughout each borough – accessible by water taxis.

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But for purposes of the primary, Mr. Catsimatidis says using his own money is an advantage – as he’s not asking for any more. “I have friend-raisers, not fundraisers.”

In expressing how he can win vs. other candidates, Mr. Catsimatidis cited statistics of the Romney national election – how New York went “89 to 19 against the Republican”. (He added playfully that he would’ve won had he run.) The 89-19 statistic got some heads nodding with the added thought that “any Republican needs ‘Reagan Democrats’ to win”…However, the 2009 NYC mayoral election was far closer. Moreover, the voting for a national candidate (that didn’t campaign here) overlooks that Giuliani won 2x, and Bloomberg 3x. The Republican line, it could be said, has delivered the last 5 mayoral terms in a row in NYC since 1994.

Mr. Catsimatidis also relays something that no other candidate can say… that stalwarts of the Democratic Party including Pres. Bill Clinton and possibly Congressman Charles Rangel may very well support him in a general election. This may have to do with his connections/friendships or prior support of their races – but is a certain speculation of wide support across party lines

He offered that he has a friendship and sponsorship of a one-man play (“Fiorello”) with actor Tony Lo Bianco who plays Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. Mr. Catsimatidis draws inspiration from both the play and the legacy/life of Mayor La Guardia – and has recently supplied tickets for a performance in upper Manhattan. He offered to possibly bring the show to each borough, so that more may see it. Of his campaign manager Rob Ryan, Mr. Catsimatidis said he “was the son of Fiorello LaGuardia’s chief of staff”.

Answering a question, Mr. Catsimatidis also spoke of how he’ll communicate with labor unions, with many contracts coming due for negotiation in the next election. “I’ve never had a problem with unions in my businesses, across decades,” he added, underlining his point of being able to handle the negotiations.

Our attendees did have many questions for Mr. Catsimatidis – including asking about an interview with NY Times and NY-1’s Sam Roberts in June, 2012 when he speculated on a run for a Mayor by characterizing himself as “I am a Clinton Democrat” (3:40-4:05 on the video) that couldn’t be elected as a Democrat, as a businessman. Does that mean he’s changed parties in his past or recently? That history will probably be explained across the primary – which Mr. Catsimatidis informed is on September 10th.

Brownstone has now seen all 5 for Mayor in less than 4 month’s time – and appreciates each candidate coming to our areas of Brooklyn. Doubtless we will see more of them across the 5 months from now until the Republican primary election.

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“We got a call, and we got the guy.” — Watertown, Massachusetts Chief of Police

19 Apr

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The Watertown, Massachusetts police chief summed-up how a vigilant homeowner called believing someone was in her backyard — and how it led to the arrest of Public Enemy #1 across Boston’s recent history.

In a horrific week for Boston and America standing with it — terrorists that later were identified as brothers, set two bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. What typically is a joyous holiday (Patriots Day) on Monday, was turned into scenes of carnage taking 3 lives, injuring over 140 with many losing limbs horribly to the exploding shrapnel.

Today, four days later…a day-long manhunt ended after the 9 pm hour in Watertown, Massachusetts — when Suspect #2 was captured alive and taken into custody at a local hospital (albeit in critical condition). Just before midnight last evening, his older brother referred to as Suspect #1 was killed and may have actually detonated a bomb on himself. The events were bitter that touched off the manhunt, beginning with the killing of an MIT security guard, gunfire and explosions across the towns north of Boston. The tension built each hour, as the Boston-area was put under total lockdown. Four towns were subject to door to door searches, and there were leads that turned up far less than what was hoped as hours grew into noon, then into evening, and into the night.

But the got their man.

The Boston police, Watertown and many other towns, Massachusetts State police, FBI, U.S. District Attorney and many levels of Federal offices — worked together with the pure resolution to get this guy. And congratulations to all, that they did.

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Our White House (and Google) Forget the 45th Anniversary of the MLK, Jr. Assassination.

4 Apr

mlk2

Early morning, April four

Shot rings out in the Memphis sky.

Free at last, they took your life

They could not take your pride.

From the song: Pride (In The Name of Love) by U2

The Obama White House is usually spared criticism by our media…so when the 45th Anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination comes and goes without mention by the WH…there’s hardly an outcry. That happened today. Until maybe when someone was surfing Google on their lunchtime, and the WH scrambled to add a brief blog release?

You would think that schools across the USA as led by the White House might have…should have…been more aware for all it teaches about the American experience and cultural significance. That the day before all print media would have gotten releases from a WH seeming always to look for popular tie-ins for self-promotion at the very least, or have the story read from the AM radio shows? Maybe even Google could have highlighted Martin Luther King, Jr. today on its famous home-page with a “Google Doodle” that millions see each day it chooses to do so? But, no.

Odder still, earlier this week on Easter Sunday, many Americans were angered that Google would highlight farmhand rights activist Cesar Chavez – over any recognition of the day being Easter. chavezdoodle(In fairness, they haven’t highlighted Easter since 2000.) On that Monday, it was realized that Google was actually coordinating a promotion with the Obama White House – which officially decreed the Sunday as Cesar Chavez Day, March 31, oddly to commemorate what would have been his 86th birthday. (His 85th was an election year.) On Easter Sunday, the Obama family went to mass and participated in an Easter roll/hunt on the WH lawn — but across the internet, it was all about Cesar Chavez?

What makes this tie-together, is that the Obama team actually evoked MLK just a few days ago…in promoting the legacy of Cesar Chavez. And it is quite possible that the significance of April 4th, 45 years ago today, went unrecognized?

The actual proclamation of Pres. Obama included this passage:

In 1966, when Cesar Chavez was struggling to bring attention to his cause, he received a telegram from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “As brothers in the fight for equality, I extend the hand of fellowship and goodwill,” he wrote. “We are with you in spirit and in determination that our dreams for a better tomorrow will be realized.”

Well, what was realized today on April 4th, 2013?

In fact, the White House must have been alerted of the ‘faux pas’ – as a press release/ White House blog mention was released at 4:30 pm today (or about the time most of DC’s offices are emptying for the day) in time for the nightly news on the East Coast, of course, to be alerted that the WH cared.

It was posted in the name of a senior advisor, Valerie Jarret — at 4:30 pm.

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