Tag Archives: 2013 Election

Brownstone Endorses Joe Lhota.

1 Jul

BRC invited each candidate and listened to their goals, background and perspectives up close. Our attendees were able to ask questions, get answers and openly engage each campaign across 2013.

Our choice for NYC Mayor is Joe Lhota — we urge our members and their neighbors to vote for him on Sept. 10 and on through the general election. 

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He’ll make an outstanding Mayor

BRC chose Joe Lhota by a large margin (68% to 13%) over John Catsimatidis. There was 18% Undecided and George McDonald received no votes. We’ll summarize the responses, as to why:

1. His potential to lead NYC and his sacrifice is second to none — across both Parties.

Unlike any other candidate, Mr. Lhota sacrificed a lucrative career as Chairman of the MTA — to take the chance of running for the Mayoralty, essentially as a call to duty in our recessionary times. Many BRC members responded to that sacrifice, as a requisite of what true leaders do. (Contrast this with Democrats that are running for Mayor — while being paid in other capacities and actually campaigning during middays in Elected Offices — Comptroller, Public Advocate, Councilmember, etc.).

Mr. Lhota has Rudy Giuliani’s support for Mayor because helped in both Giuliani terms in leadership positions – serving as First Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Finance and Operations, and before that leading Economic Development. His management style has also been honed across the private sector (a background that Mayor Giuliani didn’t possess). He knows what to expect and what to prepare for — and methods most effective for working with NY’s communities. Joe Lhota recognizes that he learned on-the-job within City Hall, and has insight about communicating and outreach. For those reasons, and because he’s his own man — we believe he can be an even better Mayor than Rudy more inclusive and capable of starting quickly without even a day of any lagging for learning how Government works in any way.

2. In citywide Mayoral 2013 forums, he’s shown a commanding knowledge.

Mr. Lhota has a perspective of one that has already seen the depth of the issues.  Other candidates talk in generalities, or conjure grandiose promises. Lhota has gotten applause speaking about Housing-policy and NYCHA’s issues in Bedford-Stuyvesant. He understands and respects City uniformed workers, and roles of unions – but aims to be reasonable. He’s relayed the struggles of Small Business, taxation and how jobs can be created – knowing how everything in the City works in synch. He’s already lessened the size of government in a challenging economy, by attrition and cutting excess spending. He has spoken on Education in specific terms, about its challenges – and options that escape other candidates that are far less familiar with the role they covet.

mayorjandebateHe knows the City from Hunts Point to the West Shore of Staten Island, back to Far Rockaway. Our BRC members have questioned him across two meetings – and he seems unaffected by any special interests. He makes clear, intelligent points. One member added: “He seems far less likely to manipulate in back-room dealings.” We trust he’s the person to lead the City and base consideration/decisions on merit.

3. There has never been a Mayor in NYC’s history with Lhota’s in-depth understanding of our Transit system, the MTA and internal processes.

While there are steady pot-shots — Mr. Lhota has explained how tolls were increased and that the NY Legislature had also added future increases (to come every 2 years). One BRC member feels this strength is a slam-dunk: “notice that transportation is never an issue — at any forum with either Party? — because he owns that issue.” Joe Lhota offers NYC what it never had – no Mayor has ever had a first-hand knowledge of operating procedures, “the two books” and hands-on experience leading the MTA/transit system and Authority. He knows exactly what is B-S and what our transportation systems need. This is an advantage, when interacting with the MTA, State legislature and Governor moving forward, on our behalf.

When Superstorm Sandy crippled our transportation system – Joe Lhota’s leadership was well-regarded, universally recognized and widely reported across the nation for bringing the System back to working condition (in 2 days).

4. Joe Lhota is the choice to rebuild the Republican Party in NYC.

Having a strong “2nd Party” in NYC is critical — for a better, more responsive government.  We have an entrenched One Party system that “looks the other way” so often to protect its own. We accept mediocrity from local elected officials. A One Party system also creates a protective bubble for many in Office. Unemployment, crime, poverty, senior housing, jobs leaving, etc. — are somehow, someone else’s doing. NYC Democrats simply fingerprint and avoid tackling large-scale problems. Our media lets them off the hook even as the City Council has been 90% Democrats for 50 years?..

Any thinking voter wants a 2-party system, at least – and can support an intelligent option.

BullElephantJoe Lhota spoke at the Brownstone Club immediately after the 9-11-01 attacks as part of the Giuliani Administration, and has returned twice in this campaign season. In a City that wonders why Republicans don’t groom others for office – he is a prime example and personification of what any NYC Republican should want in their candidate.

Both primary opponents have recently enrolled as Republicans in comparison. In fact, Mr. Catsimatidis has referred to himself as a “Clinton Democrat — but had registered as a Republican ahead of the 2009 election with a run in mind, then. Many BRC members were puzzled as to how Kings County representatives formerly identifying as “conservative Republicans” were quick to work for his campaign. Mr. Catsimatidis said that Congressman Rangel and Pres. Clinton would endorse him. George McDonald was a Democrat as recently as last year, and has gone on record (NY-1 TV forum) saying that building the Republican Party isn’t something he’s interested in.

5. BRC believes NYC has reached its tipping-point for Billionaire Mayors — and wants $ out of politics.

In NYC, we have been suffering from as one BRC member put it: “just too much Bloomberg”. Members believe that NYC would vote against any billionaire again as they had with Ronald Lauder in 1989 (who was beaten by Rudy Giuliani). The election of 2009 almost made a Mayor out of Bill Thompson — who is lagging behind in the Democratic primary, right now. This means, they didn’t vote FOR him in 2009… but against Mayor Bloomberg. In fact, local Councilmember Bill de Blasio was swept into the NYC Public Advocate office despite a scant record of achievement– with his campaign, essentially having run against the Bloomberg 3rd term. Then again, we’ve seen people win even national elections, without records of achievement.

The “Republican brand” has been to connected again to the wealthy – and this began in earnest with the “two Americas” campaign of John Edwards in 2008 (which attracted Bill de Blasio to the midwest to campaign for Edwards). Across the 2012 presidential season, NYC voters were barraged by an “anti-1%” sentiment that was hung onto the Republican candidate (that “only” had a $350 million self-worth, comparatively vs. the billions of John Catsimatidis). In fact, Occupy Wall Street protestors — set up across 2011 and 2012 — and never once rallied against policies of the Obama White House, nor the frequent $26k per plate mega-fundraisers.

NYC has to be more savvy.

Lhota can stand up to scrutiny vs. any Democrat in any debate or forum. He can win. Joe Lhota’s communicated he’d be ready to lead “on Day 1” — and we believe no other candidate is so qualified.

lhotamediaHis understanding of our City is comprehensive. His background includes Mayoral-level government, public transportation, economic development, finance & budgeting of City agencies, interaction with all City divisions (as First Deputy Mayor under Giuliani), engaging the public at open Town Hall forums within each borough of the City, and executive management that pertains to NYC tourism with sports teams and entertainment with the NY Knicks, Rangers and Madison Square Garden oversight. He was raised in The Bronx and his father was an NYPD officer, his uncle a taxi driver — and he’s lived in Brooklyn for 26 years. BRC believes he has a unique grasp of the layers and inter-connection of life in NYC and its suburbs.

Democrats in the White House and Albany are providing scant leadership on the Economy. The next Mayor also faces unions that have a signed agreement from Democratic candidates — and want retro-pay and their contracts. NYC needs far more than talk. We need a Republican that can improve our City on so many levels. We need a leader to build a team and effectiveness we can trust. We need a Mayor that can get things done without a year of appointments and disappointments. We need a leader that will not need to learn how to adapt into government as he goes along.

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The 2013 elections have become a circus of caricatures. Put any of them against Joe Lhota, and the voters will see the difference.

He simply is the best person for the job.

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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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BRC features Mayoral candidates Adolpho Carrion, Jr. and Tom Allon.

19 Feb

In February’s meeting we met two news-making candidates for in-depth introductions to their campaigns. Having the floor in separate hours, they graciously offered ample time for Q & As– communicating on a level that resonated with most attendees.

After beginning by voicing support for LICH and introducing other local issues, BRC president Joe Nardiello introduced Mr. Carrion in the first hour, saying he’s the only candidate seeking the Republican nomination that has already won elections. The former Bronx Borough President and City Councilman has the support of Kings County GOP leadership and that of the Bronx. Mr. Carrion communicated strategies for winning as he highlighted his significant resume for seeking the Office. He has the nomination of the Independence Party and emphasized his independent run as symbolic of being apart of the Democratic Party’s special interests. photo-4

Beginning his public service as Director for a Bronx Community Board, Mr. Carrion recounted how he answered the needs of his areas from the grassroots, upward. Cleaner, safer streets and Education he said were common threads that he’d work to improve across all of New York City. He said there has to be a greater understanding of  Police procedure, and that “Stop, Question and Frisk” frequently loses the word “question” with the media. Mr. Carrion emphasized that NYC is failing our kids, judging by the numbers of inner-city students that are not ready for college and higher education. He recounted his opposition to proposals by the Giuliani Administration for a small program of school vouchers, saying that the City needs bigger more comprehensive answers.

He spoke of the City’s diversity, covered his background as a pastor and experience in business. Working alongside the Giuliani administration as Bronx Borough President, he helped guide development/retention of the Hunts Point Market, the new Yankee Stadium as well as over thousands of units of low/moderate income housing.

Mr. Carrion also has a national perspective, serving as President Obama’s Secretary of Urban Affairs for two years, and later added the experience of HUD’s New York region (Housing and Urban Development).

The 25 attendees had many questions for Mr. Carrion. One gentleman asked how he could be a better presumptive leader of the NYC Republican Party – than the last few Republican Mayors. Mr. Carrion answered that participation is a 2-way process and compared/contrasted his experience with both Mayor Bloomberg and many of the Democratic field.

In the second hour, it was Republican Tom Allon’s floor.

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The owner/publisher of weekly newspapers in Manhattan, Mr. Allon has been gaining attention for his innovative ideas on Education, and for being straightforward in his criticism of how to improve aspects of the Blumberg team. When introducing him, Joe Nardiello mentioned his standout performance at January’s Mayoral forum featuring 4 Democrats and 2 Republicans (the other invited was Joe Lhota) in East New York, Brooklyn saying: “if you haven’t heard of him before tonight, you’ll find yourself telling your neighbors all about him tomorrow.”

Tom Allon immediately said he’s a Republican that can win a general election, and recommended that all Republicans in NYC should set aside the social-issues that play nationally vs. GOP candidates. Mr. Allon knows first-hand of the immigrant experience as the son of parents that had escaped the Holocaust. Raised in Manhattan, Mr. Allon began as a teacher in Stuyvesant HS and credited discussions and mentoring from author Frank McCourt (who taught at Stuyvesant at the time) to encourage his talent for writing and journalism. Years later, Mr. Allon was the person who talked Mayor Ed Koch to begin contributing unabashed movie reviews.

Earlier that day, Mr. Allon had done live radio with NPR’s Brian Lehrer (click to listen) and an interview with the NY Post.

Mr. Allon briefly gave an overview of his family, but opted more to use his time to introduce a series of ideas. His process for improving education was well received by 2-3 retired teachers attending (one, later playfully pointed out the differences between teaching in Stuyvesant and Eramus Hall, in Brooklyn). Essentially, he wants to reform the process/profession of teaching by training on the level of how doctors are rehearsed, long before they practice. “After all, teachers are operating with our children each day.” He wants to cut through the unions and emphasis that protects teachers and a system, over tackling the systemic issues at hand — considering student graduation, aptitudes, and attitude for what they draw from education.

To get more revenues into the school system, he proposes selling the air rights above schools to private investors — in order to renovate far more school buildings with private sector funds.

photo-2Mr. Allon is an advocate for economic and job development, and for continuing what’s working with the City’s approaches vs. crime. However, he offered improvements for example how Mr. Allon feels newest NYPD shouldn’t be sent to the most challenged areas, because they have the least amount of training. When his performance in the aforementioned Housing/Mayoral forum was raised, he recalled how upon listening to the Democrats’ rants vs. NYCHA’s Commissioner and misappropriation of funds/repair schedules, etc., he called for all candidates to join him that very next day in demanding his resignation from Mayor Bloomberg. They were silent.

He spoke of how he’d want to approach the many unions with contracts due for negotiation, in response to a question that evoked the first years of Mayor Lindsey. When he was asked to define his toughness, overall…he gave one of his most memorable lines of the evening. “I’ve been in Board Rooms with some of the toughest businessman that NYC has seen. Put it this way, I am Israel. I’m peaceful, and intelligent dialogue is of the utmost importance. But cross me or attack, and I won’t hold back and level where you live.” Delivered calmly, it added a perspective that made attendees (later on) take notice and comment that he would be stronger on union contracts and give/take than they believed earlier.

At times, BRC meetings exceed anyone’s expectations. The candor of both candidates, and openness to answer any question (in detail and length) – left many with a great feeling about what’s to unfold in the Mayoral primary and race ahead.

One such reaction came from a retired NY public school teacher and faithful Democrat who was attending her political meeting of any kind: “both candidates were very interesting and considerable and more people honestly need to hear about Tom Allon – they certainly will, from me.”

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