Archive | May, 2013

Joe Lhota returns for our May meeting – BRC members react to Catsimatidis campaign in the 2nd hour

21 May

Joe Lhota opened our monthly meeting by remarking how Brownstone was the first group he addressed in January – and the first time he’d revisited any place on the campaign trail so far, citywide.

photo-10Mr. Lhota updated BRC. He reintroduced what sets his campaign apart and discussed issues that he believes are strongpoints. (In succession they included: leadership of Day 1 based his experience as Deputy Mayor under Mayor Giuliani, his position vs. crime, his making NYC’s economy a central issue especially in support of small business, taking the reigns of a failing education system and examining wasteful spending across wide-ranging City agencies, as was done over his direction during the Giuliani terms). Mr. Lhota was candid and seemed to enjoy an extended Q & A session. He then left for another engagement shortly after 8 pm.

Our next scheduled speaker was Brooklyn Commissioner of the Board of Elections, Mr. Simon Shamoun – who replaced our BRC member Nancy Mottola-Shacher (who was traveling in Europe, but supported the chance for the Club to meet/greet the new Commissioner). Mr. Shamoun spoke of his management focuses at the Board of Elections and opened a brief discussion of the merits of older voting machines vs. new systems (and their potential inability to handle a “run off”). Reaction was mixed to this news as some applauded in nostalgia for the older machines – while others asked about the cost/benefits and training already done to support the new system.

photo-11With “petition season” approaching in June, Mr. Shamoun mentioned the importance of freely supporting any candidate. This thought was perfect, as across this Mayoral election year Brownstone has welcomed 5 Mayoral candidates. (Tom Allon had dropped out, and Adolpho Carrion, Jr. is no longer a consideration for the Sept. 10th primary – having lost his support of GOP County leaders needed to provide him a space on the GOP Primary ballot.) Brownstone has yet to endorse, and has kept an open/independent mind while gauging its members’ opinions internally.

The meeting was not planned to include discussions/delivery of petitions. But that was changed with the presence of the Catsimatidis campaign.

Catsimatidis representatives and open discussion

While most all candidates are provided their own dedicated time with Club attendees, Mr. Lhota’s two appearances drew visitation from a competing campaign. Attending this evening was strategist Robert Ryan of the Catsimatidis for Mayor campaign – and a trio of GOP Young Republicans associated with Kings County (Gene Berardelli and Russell Gallo, both former guest speakers at BRC and Diane Sepulveda recently named to a NYS State ranking of YRs). Kings County GOP is now directly supporting John Catsimatidis for Mayor.

Well into the 2nd hour, the meeting changed from local issues at hand (like the open discussion of Long Island College Hospital/LICH from a nurse-practitioner in attendance) – as the Catsimatidis campaign team steered the topic to June/July petitioning and soliciting support, and talking-points of why Brooklyn County GOP leaders feel he’s the best candidate. As a last-minute speaker, BRC president Joe Nardiello added and introduced Russell Gallo – who announced he was recently named the “Brooklyn Campaign Director for Catsimatidis for Mayor”.

Mr. Gallo opened a late-topic and stated why Catsimatidis had the strongest chance of winning (funding) and his support for keeping NYPD’s Ray Kelly leading the NYPD. (Mr. Catsimatidis himself spoke during the April meeting, just a few weeks ago.) During one question from Joe Nardiello (“as a conservative Republican…what are your thoughts about a GOP candidate that’s called himself a ‘Clinton Democrat’ just last year on NY-1?”). Mr. Gallo responded that many, including him didn’t start out as Republicans and deferred to Mr. Ryan.

BRC president Joe Nardiello then opened the floor for a lively discussion of the Catsimatidis strengths/weaknesses – himself playing “moderator”. Mr. Nardiello invited open debate, questions and shows of hands. On the topic of GOP party building, for example, Gene Berardelli expressed that Mr. Lhota has not been “really present at all across these last 7-8 years” and “where was he since the Giuliani years” in comparing the behind-the-scenes support since 2009 given by John Catsimatidis. Mr. Nardiello said the notion of nurturing ‘successors’ from other Mayors and leaders has long (“for 100 years”) been an issue within the Republican Party. He asked Mr. Berardelli “if a Mayor Giuliani is a Republican 2-term Mayor and he’s brought forth his Republican Deputy Mayor as a GOP candidate – aren’t you now campaigning against what has long been wanted by Republicans…as Rudy has actually now provided a successor?” There were other points debated, including the “89-19”-line referring to the national Romney campaign’s losing numbers in a woeful NYC effort, and the 2009 election that nearly saw Thompson win vs. the public’s feelings about a 3rd term billionaire buying that election.

BRC members react to $$$ offer

It was Mr. Gallo’s offer of $15/hour to walk petitions and flyers for Mr. Catsimatidis that drew a reaction – with many believing it a step too far for the meeting at hand. A BRC member from Bay Ridge also communicated that earlier in the week there was an offer of $12/hour – and wanted to know why it was “25% higher in Cobble Hill” (but was not provided an answer).

In fact, many BRC members expressed their disappointment – that the Catsimatidis campaign was present from the beginning of the meeting. As a whole, the Brownstone club is fiercely independent – and is comprised of many veterans of politics, and longtime New Yorkers with political savvy. In fact, immediately following the meeting more than 1/3 of the 35 attendees openly expressed that Cats’ campaign was in their terms, for the evening: “too obvious”, “heavy handed” and “ill-timed”. Another added that it was “insulting” to be offered money to get petition signatures (whether by the hour or by signature/sheet). “You do it, because you believe in the candidate,” said one. Another member said it felt like another attempt “to try to buy support”. Another: “this is more of what’s wrong with politics, when there’s too much money in it”.

Over 10 members afterward expressed they didn’t want to see anything of this sort again – and two felt they were “beset upon by County” instead of being offered an “independent choice of which petitions to carry”.

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Amid scandals, President Obama comes to NY for 3 midday fundraisers – no questions asked.

14 May

As questions over Benghazi mounted as to the whereabouts, concern and actions regarding what our State Department and President did (and didn’t do) on the evening of 9-11-12 as a possible dereliction of duty, in favor of a next-day fundraiser in Las Vegas — President Obama headed to our City on Monday, May 13th for 3 more fundraisers.

Obamafundies2013The moniker of “campaigner-in-chief” clearly still applies as Pres. Obama flew to NYC midday and spend the next 7 1/2 hours on completely partisan, political and DNC-centric events — which were paid for however, presumably by Federal tax-dollars, as well as NYC taxpayers for the extensive amount of NYPD security needed. (We have to presume this, because no media asks.)

The reason for taking the “day off” for travel to NYC? Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee 2014 midterm war chests.

President Obama was quoted as saying, in the first fundraiser:

My intentions over the next 3 ½ years are to govern. … If there are folks who are more interested in winning elections than they are thinking about the next generation then I want to make sure there are consequences to that.” This of course, is the height of contradiction. Here is the President of the USA, not doing the work at hand on ANY level — but raising funds for WINNING ELECTIONS in the mid-term elections of next year. Pure politics. Pure hypocrisy. And by and large, although the Public paid for this trip and travel and security — across American they’d never know they did.

Yesterday, a White House morning press event would be carried nationally, perhaps to make most of America believe he was in Washington D.C.? — but New Yorkers knew differently.

Pres. Obama flew into NY from DC on Air Force One, then shuttled on the presidential helicopter to midtown. Manhattan streets and avenues were locked-down down the west-side and Greenwich Village as the first event was set for 1 pm in the private home of Hollywood movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, the second on the announced schedule was at another private home and the 3rd was held at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. All were big money events, costing individuals as much as $20,000 per head — and WPIX-TV reported during its 10 pm telecast that it may have raised “about $3 million” for the DNC and mid-term elections. Not a bad “day’s work” – if this is what the 2nd term USA President is supposed to be doing?

For anyone believing that our mainstream media was growing more objective, or critical of the advantages this White House has taken across its first 5 years…it is now clear that the White House is generally still ensconced in a warm, protective media cocoon. Heck, ahead of the cancellation of Fleet Week… does anyone even remember how the WH was going to cut-back, sacrifice as per “the sequester”? Our media doesn’t. 

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Candidates prove Small Business issues are in their wheelhouse.

1 May

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St. Francis College hosted its second Mayoral forum on “Workforce Development and Small Business issues”. Tuesday’s quick-moving forum featured GOP candidates John Catsimatidis, Joe Lhota, George McDonald and Independence party candidate Adolpho Carrion, Jr.

Answers were candid and in-depth, and showed each candidate understands the challenges facing the NY economy. Each answer demonstrated an advantage of the Republican contenders vs. the Democrats who all gathered for the exact forum earlier in April (no matter their lack of a first-hand connection with the subject matter). Too bad, they couldn’t do this together.

NY-1’s Errol Louis moderated the forum, with an interesting array of questions presented by each of NYC’s chambers of commerce and hosted by the Brooklyn Chamber. Mr. Carrion showed clear skill across many answers. Mr. Catsimatidis was passionate about issues facing storefront businesses, as he’s been contending with them for 40 years. Mr. McDonald has run the Doe Fund for 25 years.

Joe Lhota’s experience as Deputy Mayor and within business management made for intelligent responses – but was attacked on the issue of raising Verrazano tolls (he called it a “cheap shot”). Revealing was Mr. Lhota’s response of the increases being an “every two year” occurrence by NYS legislation – that the public may not be aware that next year, and 2 years from then, the tolls are going up further.

For the entire debate – posted by Brooklyn Independent TV on youTube – just click.

Online summary by Brooklyn’s Home Reporter News (click). 

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